The United States is seeking to bring Russia and China to the negotiating table in order to prevent a new nuclear arms race, according to a senior White House Official.
President Joe Biden's administration is prepared to pursue nuclear negotiations with either power “without preconditions,” said White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
Such talks, he said, were necessary to prevent a new nuclear arms race and to keep at bay the specter of nuclear annihilation that has haunted the world since the closing of World War II.
“Today, we now stand at what our president would call an ‘inflection point’ in our nuclear stability and security,” Sullivan said during a June 2 meeting of the Arms Control Association.
“It is a point that demands new strategies for achieving the same goal we’ve held since the Cold War—to reduce the risk of nuclear conflict.”
US Pauses Data SharingSullivan’s remarks come just a day after the United States announced it was suspending the exchange of some nuclear data with Russia.
As part of the suspension, the United States will no longer send daily updates to Russia about its missile and launcher locations, as well as data about a missile's flight during tests.
The nation will continue to notify Russia of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and submarine ballistic missile (SLBM) launches, as well as ongoing strategic exercises, in accordance with other treaties the two nations maintain.
“Some of the major cracks in our nuclear foundation have come from Russia,” Sullivan said.
“These steps will help guarantee that Russia does not receive benefits from a treaty they refuse to abide by, and that the principle of reciprocity … is upheld.”
Sullivan underscored that the decision did not mean that the United States was walking away from the table. The Biden administration, he said, remains committed to working with Russia to responsibly manage nuclear issues, but will seek to “negotiate arms control from a position of strength and confidence”
He clarified, however, that the United States would not seek to develop a numerically superior arsenal to Russia, and would instead focus on developing new conventional capabilities to boost deterrence.
The United States, he said, knew too well the risks posed by a nuclear arms race to become involved in one again.
China ‘Not Willing to Engage’Russia is not the only nuclear threat, Sullivan said. China’s communist regime may in fact pose a more severe and long-term challenge to global peace and stability.
“It’s not just Russia. We’ve also seen a change in approach from the People’s Republic of China,” Sullivan said, using the official name for communist China.
“The PRC has thus far opted not to come to the table for substantive dialogue on arms control,” Sullivan said.
“Simply put, we have not yet seen a willingness from the PRC to compartmentalize strategic stability from broader issues of the relationship.”
Nevertheless, he said, the United States would remain committed to bringing the regime to the table, remaining open to dialogue without preconditions.
“We’re also willing to engage China without preconditions, helping to ensure that competition is managed and that competition does not veer into conflict,” Sullivan said.
“It is in neither of our countries interests to embark on an open ended competition in strategic nuclear forces.”
Sullivan added that, though the United States was ready to engage with China and Russia on nonproliferation, it would still seek to hold the regimes accountable for its actions.
Speaking at a press call later in the day, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby built on Sullivan’s remarks, saying that China’s communist regime was “not willing to engage in a meaningful way.”
Describing the current international situation as a “new nuclear era,” Kirby underscored that the United States would seek meaningful dialogue with Russia and China, but also to “hold these nuclear powers to proper account for their behavior in the nuclear space.”
“China has not been transparent. They have not been willing to talk. They have not been willing to share. They have not been willing to join any sort of multilateral arrangement,” Kirby said.
“We would be willing to speak to both Russia and China without preconditions, but as [Sullivan] also said ... that doesn’t mean without accountability.”