China Voices Agreement Over US-Russia Nuclear Missile Reductions
China Tuesday expressed support for a proposal by Russian President Vladimir Putin to cut Russian and American nuclear stockpiles, but indicated opposition to his overture to discuss with Washington the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.
"China welcomes United States and Russia to continue to irreversibly reduce by a large amount their nuclear arsenals," foreign ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi said.
Putin's proposal, posted on the Russian government website Monday, called for slashing Russian and US nuclear arsenals to less than 1,500 warheads each, while also expressing a willingness to discuss amendments to the ABM Treaty.
"China hopes the Russia and the United States can ratify immediately and implement the agreements they have reached, while quickly restarting nuclear reduction talks," Sun said.
He was responding to a question on Russian-US discussions on amendments to the treaty.
China together with Russia has opposed any changes to the ABM Treaty with both nations referring to it as the cornerstone of a 30-year global strategic balance.
Washington hopes to amend the treaty to legally open the way for it to build a National Missile Defense (NMD) system that would shoot down incoming nuclear missiles.
The untried system if successfully built could make intercontinental nuclear-tipped missiles obsolete, but could also lead to a new arms race with Russia and China vowing to engage in a new arms race aimed at countering the system.
"As far as the US National Missile Defense is concerned if we are to protect stability of the global strategic balance, then this system shouldn't be built," Sun said.
State Department spokesman Philip Reeker Monday said Washington had read "with interest" Putin's statement, but declined to give a specific response or comment on whether the United States would be willing to engage Russia on the specific ideas proposed.
Sun also refused to comment on the ongoing talks in Beijing of deputy Chief of Staff of the Russian Army General Victor Manilov with his Chinese counterparts.
State press reports said that Manilov was here as part of the fourth round of talks between the general staff of China's People's Liberation Army and the Russian armed forces.
Russian sources in Beijing said that in talks with Chinese military leaders, Manilov exchanged views on the proposed US NMD system -- BEIJING (AFP)
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