According to head of the German Foreign Ministry Heiko Maas, China’s refusal to negotiate the limitations of medium-range nuclear missiles was “one of the reasons why the US and Russia no longer want to bind their hands unilaterally with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty”.
“China has a free hand, and others are also arming up: North Korea, Pakistan, India, for example. If Beijing refuses to accept control, that does not have to be the end of the discussion. China belongs to the table of discussion. We have to raise pressure there”, he said.
Maas suggested that the West has to make sure that “the subject gets back on the political agenda”.
“In the decades since the end of the Cold War, there was not much need to talk about it. But we have to lead the debate because there are clear threat scenarios. Our attitude is that general armament should not be the result of the new competition of the great powers”, he said, laying out his view on the matter.
In an interview with Focus earlier this month, German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said that China’s medium-range missiles can reach Russia, suggesting that Moscow may have an interest in including Beijing in “some sort of disarmament treaty”.
Other German officials have previously voiced their concerns over the collapse of the INF Treaty, with Economy and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier not ruling out a new arms race between the US and Russia.
The United States formally suspended its obligations under the 1987 INF Treaty on February 2 and triggered the six-month withdrawal process, citing alleged Moscow's violation of the deal. The agreement bans all ground-launched missiles, conventional or nuclear, with ranges of 310 to 3,400 miles.
Just a month later, on 4 March, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree suspending Russia's obligations under the INF Treaty until the United States resumes its compliance with the agreement. Putin's decree came into effect on the day it was signed.
Putin said that Moscow did not want a costly arms race, but ruled out any new talks on arms controls, saying that all earlier proposals remained on the table.