The Associated Press | By David Rising
BERLIN — The United States and Russia concluded two days of arms control talks Tuesday with the two sides still at odds over the U.S. demand to include China in any new treaty but showing signs of a possible willingness to extend the existing New START deal, which expires next year.
U.S. negotiator Marshall Billingslea told reporters after the talks in Vienna ended that “there are some areas of convergence between Russia and the United States, but we do remain far apart on a number of key issues.”
The U.S. argues that any new nuclear arms limitation treaty should cover all types of warheads, include better verification protocols and transparency measures, and be extended to include China, which has been increasing its own arsenal.
China has rejected the idea as an American ploy to avoid a new deal and said that it would gladly participate if the U.S. would agree to nuclear parity among all nations. China was invited to participate in the Vienna talks but did not send a delegation.
Russia, meanwhile, has said that if China is part of a new treaty, Britain and France should also be included.
The Russian representative to international organizations in Vienna, Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov, tweeted a comment from Russia’s negotiator saying that due to the “non-readiness” of the two western European countries to join a new arms pact, the “U.S. and Russia should concentrate on (the) bilateral track.”
The New START treaty was signed in 2010 by then-U.S. President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The pact limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers.
After both Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty last year, New START is the only remaining nuclear arms control deal between the two countries. It’s set to expire in February 2021 unless the parties agree to extend it for another five years.