The Biden administration lost all leverage for convincing Russia to work on bringing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) into a nuclear arms control pact when it extended the New START treaty with Moscow, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview aired on Feb. 4.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Feb. 3 that the United States has extended New START, the last remaining nuclear weapons treaty with Russia, for five years.
“The mistake, I think, that was made there, is that while I think weapons agreements are good, strategic weapons agreements are good things if they could be verified adequately, they forgot the most important new nuclear power. The Chinese Communist Party now holds weapons systems and is testing missiles at an alarming rate,” Pompeo told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo.
“Our administration was working to bring the Chinese inside this arms control structure. We were close to doing it at one point. Now the leverage to convince the Russians that they too need to work to bring the Chinese into this structure is all gone,” Pompeo said.
In announcing the extension of New START, Blinken said that the administration of President Joe Biden “will also pursue arms control to reduce the dangers from China’s modern and growing nuclear arsenal.”
After the United States exited the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia in 2019, Pompeo called on Russia and China to join a multilateral arms control pact. When then-President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the INF, he said he would be open to a new deal that included Beijing.
China has developed a vast arsenal of missiles that the United States and Russia couldn’t develop or deploy under the INF, a strategic reality that has concerned the Kremlin and the White House for years. One-third to one-half of China’s ballistic missile arsenal would violate the INF if Beijing was bound by the INF, according to a U.S. assessment.
The United States attempted to bring China into the INF on at least three occasions, failing each time.
The New START treaty, which came into force in 2011, similarly limits the deployed nuclear arsenal of the United States and Russia as China plays catchup. The treaty caps the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 and the number of deployed nuclear missiles and bombers to 700. The treaty also includes a verification regime that allows both nations to ensure mutual compliance through onsite inspections.