China backs Obama's calls on nuclear disarmament

BEIJING (AFP) - China on Thursday backed US President Barack Obama's calls for the US and Russia to slash their atomic arsenals, saying the two former Cold War rivals should bear the brunt of global nuclear disarmament.

"The US and Russia... should substantially reduce their nuclear arsenal in a verifiable and responsible manner," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing in Beijing.

She added: "As the two countries have the largest nuclear arsenal, they should bear special and primary responsibility for nuclear disarmament."

Her remarks came a day after US President Obama called for the US and Russia's stash of strategic nuclear weapons to be cut down to around 1,000 and for stocks of tactical nuclear arms to be reduced.

Russia and the United States together hold about 90 per cent of the world's nuclear weapons, while China is the fourth biggest nuclear power, behind France, according to the May/June 2013 report by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published in the United States.

Russia's total inventory of 8,500 warheads slightly surpasses that of 7,700 in the US. France has 300 warheads, while China has 250 and the United Kingdom 225, the report said.

Russian officials on Wednesday reacted coldly to the call by Obama, saying the United States should address Moscow's concerns over missile defence first.

"How can we take seriously this idea about cuts in strategic nuclear potential while the United States is developing its capabilities" to intercept Russia's weapons, deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin asked.

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