Assessments

Why China Will Steer Clear of a New START on Arms Control

May 14, 2019 | 05:15 GMT
A new type 094A Jin-class nuclear submarine of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy participates in a naval parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of China's PLA Navy in the sea near Qingdao, in eastern China's Shandong province on April 23.

A new type 094A Jin-class nuclear submarine of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy participates in a naval parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of China's PLA Navy in the sea near Qingdao, in eastern China's Shandong province on April 23. Beijing has reason to consider joining a revamped New START arms treaty, but it's likely to decide it's better off remaining on the outside.

(MARK SCHIEFELBEIN/AFP/Getty Images)

The United States never managed to draw China into the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, but it's still harboring hopes that it can lean on Beijing -- and Moscow too -- to sign up for a new strategic nuclear arms control agreement. Naturally, such a deal could significantly curb the wider arms race among the great powers by building on the primary existing agreement, New START, which restricts the number of strategic nuclear weapons and delivery systems that each signatory can have. But given the considerable obstacles, including mistrust among the great powers, the lack of desire from any global heavyweights to compromise and the rapidly approaching deadline to renew or replace New START before it lapses, the efforts to sign a new treaty are more likely to stall than succeed. Ultimately, that's why China -- tempted though it may be to join an agreement that might give it greater...

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