China has agreed to hold talks with US officials on nuclear arms control next week, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, which said the meeting scheduled on Monday “seeks to head off a destabilizing three-way arms race with Beijing and Moscow”, given the plunge in Sino-US ties this year.
The talks, to be led by State Department official Mallory Stewart and China’s arms control chief Sun Xiaobo, would be the first such discussion since the Obama era and would focus on ways to reduce the risk of miscalculation, the report said, noting that US officials said it did not signal the start of negotiations to set limits on weapons as the US has done previously with Moscow.
The meeting would help US officials “better understand” Beijing’s stance on such weapons and its buildup to more than 500 operational warheads as of May, given it has long had a much smaller arsenal than those developed by the US (3,700 warheads) and Russia (4,490 warheads), the report said.
Washington “is grappling with the challenge of how to deter twin nuclear threats” and whether the US may need to expand its nuclear forces, it said, adding that the Biden administration is also trying to get separate arms-control talks with Moscow, as Russia has recently pulled back from the New Start Treaty signed in 2010.
Teams for Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping have an agreement in principle for the two leaders to meet in San Francisco in mid-November, although important details have yet to be hammered out, Reuters said this week.
Read the full report: Wall Street Journal.