U.S. Arms Control Negotiator Woods Tells CBS China Is a Big U.S. Security Concern
June 21, 2020 (EIRNS)— Ambassador Robert A. Wood, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, a U.S. Commissioner for the New START Treaty’s Bilateral Consultative Commission, and a member of Marshall Billingslea’s team for the arms control talks at the June 22 meeting in Vienna with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and the Russian team, somehow expects that China will be at the table, too, even though the Chinese are still saying they have no interest in being there. Worse, Wood conveyed the impression, in a June 19 interview with CBS News, that the U.S. side fully expects to control the agenda and whatever it is that the U.S. expects Russia and China to agree to, without offering any concessions.
First of all, Wood claimed that China is on a path to double its nuclear arsenal over the next ten years with a much more modern force. “China has been modernizing its strategic nuclear forces. It’s also modernizing its non-strategic nuclear weapons that pose a very serious security concern to U.S. forces in the Indo-Pacific region as well as some of our allies, and China is the least transparent of all the [five permanent UN Security Council] P5 countries,” he said. “So there’s some real concerns here about China’s buildup and we don’t really have a great sense of what that exact buildup looks like, except that we do know that China has been developing mobile ICBMs.” Even if so, this would bring China’s total number of warheads to about 650, plus or minus, still less than half of the number of strategic warheads allowed to the U.S. and Russia by New START.
“We think it’s imperative that China comes to the table, and there will be a seat there in Vienna for them. We hope they will show up,” Wood said. “China has been free from any kind of constraints on them with regard to arms control, because the treaties the U.S. and Russia have agreed on in the past [did] not include China,” Wood went on. “So we think it is long overdue for China to come to the table, and that’s an imperative, that is a priority for this administration and we’re going to continue to push until China does take the responsible position and come to the table.”
Wood did not bother to identify that China operates under self-imposed restraints, including a no-first-use policy and a very relaxed posture, according to most arms control experts, where China doesn’t even keep warheads mated to delivery vehicles.
Wood was strident. “We’re not going to allow Russia and China to continue to move forward on their modernizations and increasing the stockpiles of nuclear weapons, and this is something that the President said cannot continue,” he said. “And so, right now, we are modernizing our stockpile. But we are not increasing the number in any substantial way, and we are having to deal with and respond to these growing challenges from Russia and China. And we cannot turn a blind eye to this.”