Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a regular news conference on Tuesday. （Photo/fmprc.gov.cn）
There is no basis for China to participate in trilateral arms control negotiations with the United States and Russia at present, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Tuesday.
At a regular news conference, Geng called on Russia and the U.S. to continue drastically reducing their nuclear weapons in a verifiable, irreversible and legally binding manner, which he said would create conditions for realizing final and full nuclear disarmament.
Representatives from Russia and the U.S. were to meet in Geneva on Wednesday to explore a new accord to limit nuclear arms that could eventually include China, according to Reuters, which cited senior U.S. officials who requested anonymity.
U.S. President Donald Trump has said he would like to see a next generation arms control deal with Russia and China to cover all types of nuclear weapons, according to U.S. media reports.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan will lead the U.S. delegation in Geneva, which will include Tim Morrison, a top aide at the White House National Security Council, and representatives from the Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the National Security Agency.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov will lead the Russian delegation.
Geng said he hopes the negotiations will send a positive message to the world.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between Russia and the U.S. is set to expire on Aug 2.
The U.S. has said the INF Treaty was already dead because, it contends, Russia had for years violated it, in part by developing and fielding the nuclear-capable SSC-8 ground-based cruise missile.
In February, Washington suspended its participation in the treaty, saying it would quit the deal on Aug 2 if Russia does not return to compliance.
Moscow denied the allegation it violated the treaty and accused Washington of breaking the accord, which the U.S. likewise denied.
On July 3, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill that suspends the country's participation in the treaty. The decree was passed by the Russian parliament last month.
The INF Treaty, which was signed by U.S. president Ronald Reagan and Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, has been considered a landmark arms control agreement. It bans Russia and the U.S. from possessing, producing or conducting test flights of ground-launched cruise missiles and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. The treaty caps the number of deployed warheads at 1,550 for each side.
In an article in Arms Control Today, a monthly magazine on nonproliferation and global security, Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the U.S.-based Arms Control Association, suggested that the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, also known as New START, be extended for five years in order "to provide a foundation for a more ambitious successor agreement".
"Without New START, there would be no legally binding, verifiable limits on the U.S. or Russian nuclear arsenals for the first time in nearly half a century," Kimball said.
New START was signed by Russia and the U.S. in 2010 and took effect in 2011. It replaced the 1991 START I treaty, which expired in 2009, and superseded the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, which was terminated when New START took effect.
New START limits the U.S. and Russia to 1,550 deployed warheads on 700 deployed delivery vehicles for long-range, strategic nuclear warheads. Both sides have reduced their forces, meeting the mandated limits in February last year. If Moscow and Washington don't come to an agreement on an extension, the agreement could die in 2021.
Kimball wrote that "if Trump continues to listen to (U.S. National Security Advisor John) Bolton's advice and allows New START to expire, he will likely become the first president since John Kennedy to fail to conclude at least one agreement with Russia to reduce nuclear dangers, and he will have opened the door to a new and dangerous nuclear arms race".
Russia does not plan to deploy new weapon systems on the European part of its territory after the U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty, unless new U.S. missiles are installed in Europe, the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO announced after a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels on July 5.
Chen Yu, a researcher at the Institute of Eurasian Studies at the Beijing-based China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said there has been a letup in the competition between Russia and the U.S. in recent years in geopolitical hot spots such as Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela.
"If the INF Treaty is allowed to expire, there are more possibilities that the two nuclear powers will come to a conflict accidentally," Chen said.
"If Russia and the U.S. freed themselves from the treaty, there would be no limitations on developing and deploying new short and medium-range missiles," Chen said.
Shen Jiru, a researcher with the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said: "The treaty has long served as a stabilizer for Europe. Once it is terminated, the consequences are serious. There will be a new round of an arms race."
No breakthrough was expected on the INF Treaty at the Geneva meeting on Wednesday, Reuters quoted U.S. officials as saying. In addition, the U.S. is not planning to discuss renewal of New START, they said.