The extension of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) is a matter of political will, says Pyotr Topychkanov, senior researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
"The extension of the New START is a matter of political will. Since Moscow is [already] interested in the extension of the treaty, the question is whether the White House would like to keep it. Unfortunately, the American side prefers to preserve ambiguity until the very last moment," he noted in his written comments for TASS.
According to Topychkanov, the US is aware that making this treaty trilateral, with China’s involvement, is impossible. "The issue could be formulated in various ways: whether China will join the New START talks (in the foreseeable future, it won’t), or whether it will take part in the multilateral consultations on future nuclear arms restrictions (this is possible). The American side understands that making the New START trilateral is impossible, but it uses this pretext to exert pressure on China," the expert said.
"China will not take part in nuclear arms control on par with Russia and the US until the nuclear arsenals become comparable. Even the imaginary involvement of France and the UK won’t help, if the large gap in the number of warheads between them and the US and Russia remains," he continued.
The expert underscored that the bilateral agenda of nuclear arms control remains between Russia and the US. "As long as relations of nuclear deterrence remain between Russia and the US, a bilateral agenda of nuclear arms control would also remain. Meanwhile, growing capabilities in nuclear weapons, strategic systems with conventional payloads, new technologies (artificial intelligence, cyber- and others), are a serious point in favor of establishment of a multilateral strategic dialogue. We do not talk about multilateral restrictions in nuclear weapons, but at first, about nuclear doctrines and armaments. Such a dialogue would help lay the groundwork for future multilateral agreements on nuclear weapons," he concluded.