İrem UZUN -TDO- The U.S. and Russia have restarted talks about their nuclear arsenals after a break of more than a year and uncertainty over whether Donald Trump is interested in salvaging arms control in the last four months before elections. Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Monday met U.S. Special Envoy Marshall Billingslea in Austria's capital, Vienna.
The New START (Strategic Arms Reduction) agreement, is the last remaining nuclear arms control deal between Washington and Moscow. The two countries are estimated to have about 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons, therefore New START's looming expiration has evoked concerns about a renewed arms race.
Both the U.S. and Russia suspended their obligations last year under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which required them to permanently eliminate nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometres. The two countries accused each other of violating the treaty's obligations.
The U.S. has said its bilateral arms control agreements with Russia are outdated and that it wants China to be included in any future agreements on nuclear weapons, even as Beijing has repeatedly said it is not interested in joining. Earlier this month, China repeated its stance that it has no intention of taking part in the talks as it is "not yet the right timing". China's estimated nuclear arsenal is dwarfed by those of the U.S. and Russia and Beijing says these two countries have the primary responsibility to disarm. Trump’s envoy confirmed on Twitter on Monday that "China is a no-show" and accused Beijing of "still hiding behind a Great Wall of Secrecy on its crash nuclear build-up".