20:16 GMT05 August 2020
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    BEIJING (Sputnik) - China is ready to join the disarmament talks with the United States and Russia if Washington agrees to reduce its nuclear arsenal to the Chinese level, Director-General of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Arms Control Department Fu Cong said.

    "The United States has not yet told us what it wants from our participation in the talks: that we increase our nuclear arsenal to the level of the United States or that the United States be ready to reduce its arsenal to the level of China", Fu said. "If the United States agrees to reduce its nuclear arsenal to China's level, we will join the talks the next day".

    China has repeatedly refused to discuss the future of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, arguing it has only a fraction of nuclear arsenals wielded by the US and Russia.

    According to an earlier statement of the national ministry’s spokesman, Zhao Lijian, the US should first "respond to calls from the Russian side to extend the New START Treaty and reduce own nuclear arsenal to create conditions for other countries to join multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament".

    The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is the last remaining arms control treaty between Russia and the United States after the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019. The pact, which expires in February, stipulates the reduction of the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers by one-half and limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550. 

    Russia wants the current deal to be extended by another five years, while the US has not yet outlined its plans concerning the treaty but has been advocating a trilateral arms control deal with Russia and China.

    Russia and the US are estimated to have slightly over 6,000 warheads per country, while China has 290, France 300, and the UK 200, according to the 2019 figures provided by the US-based Arms Control Association.

    Tags:
    New START Treaty, Russia, United States, China
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