Biden urges Russia, China to engage in nuclear talks

US President Joe Biden said China also has responsibility to play a leading role in non-proliferation. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The United States is ready to outline a new nuclear arms deal with Russia and called on Moscow to demonstrate its ability to negotiate in good faith, US President Joe Biden said ahead of global non-proliferation discussions at the United Nations on Monday (Aug 1).

Biden also called on China "to engage in talks that will reduce the risk of miscalculation and address destabilising military dynamics".

Officials from around the world are gathering in New York for the Tenth Review Conference for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), two years after it was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Arms control has historically been an area where progress has been possible despite wider disagreements. The conference takes place five months after Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine and as US-China tensions flare over Taiwan, the island claimed by Beijing.

Moscow and Washington in February extended their New START treaty.

It caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads they can deploy and limits the land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them, for five years.

"Today, my Administration is ready to expeditiously negotiate a new arms control framework to replace New START when it expires in 2026," Biden said in a statement.

"But negotiation requires a willing partner operating in good faith. And Russia's brutal and unprovoked aggression in Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe and constitutes an attack on fundamental tenets of international order," Biden said. "Russia should demonstrate that it is ready to resume work on nuclear arms control with the United States."

Asked about the statement, a source at the Russian Foreign Ministry questioned the seriousness of Washington's intentions, telling Reuters: "Is this a serious statement or a hacking attack on the White House website? If it is still serious, with whom exactly do they intend to discuss it?"

Biden said China also has responsibility to play a leading role in non-proliferation.

"There is no benefit to any of our nations, or for the world, to resist substantive engagement on arms control and nuclear non-proliferation," Biden said, citing "this moment of uncertainty and upheaval on the global stage".

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who will represent the United States at the UN meeting, echoed Biden's support for the NPT and its partner countries.

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