Donald Trump has told Moscow that the US is prepared to holding a summit with other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council in hopes of pushing for three-way arms control pact with Russia and China, a senior White House official has told Reuters.
The New START treaty, the last major arms-control treaty remaining between the US and Russia, expires in 2021.
There has been talk of negotiating an extension to the existing treaty, but the White House thinks the next generation of arms control must also include China, which is expected to more than double its stockpile during the next decade.
Russia has asked the US to extend the New START treaty for up to five years, but Moscow also has embraced the idea of bringing China into an agreement.
The US and Russia have had three bilateral meetings, while Washington and Beijing have discussed having a similar dialogue, but the planned meeting would be the first time that representatives of all three countries would be at the same table discussing the issue.
“Russia wants to make a deal very much on arms control and nuclear. And that’s smart. And so do we. We think it would be a good thing,” President Trump said at a news conference in December. “And we’ll also certainly bring in, as you know, China. And we may bring them in later, or we may bring them in now.”
China has nuclear weapons, ballistic missile capabilities and the know-how to make chemical and biological weapons. It is also updating its nuclear arsenal. Beijing has signed various international weapons agreements, but none limiting nuclear weapons.
The time and place of the meeting has not been determined, but a senior administration official said the US will use the gathering to pursue a trilateral arms control agreement that would bring China into the fold.
The meeting is expected to include leaders of the US, Russia, China, Britain and France – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. The official spoke on condition of anonymity according to White House guidelines.
The US will use this opportunity to bring both Russia and China into the international arms control framework and head-off a costly arms race, the administration official said.