China wants US and Russia to disarm

When President Barack Obama announced a new nuclear arms limitation treaty with Russia March 26, he opened his remarks by saying, "

Since taking office, one of my highest priorities has been addressing the threat posed by nuclear weapons to the American people. And that's why, last April in Prague, I stated America's intention to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.

The new agreement would cut U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons by about one-third. But a bilateral agreement will not move towards a nuclear free world if other powers not party to the negotiations are expanding their arsenals. Case in point, China.

Beijing was not impressed by the U.S.-Russian agreement. An editorial i n the Communist Party foreign affairs journal Global Times asked for praise to be withheld.

The winding path the world has taken toward nuclear disarmament has given rise to suspicion toward the real determination of the two countries to put their words into action..... Efforts taken by the US and Russia in the past 20 years have been far from enough....

Even after Obama ambitiously outlined his vision for a nuke-free world in his address in Prague last year, the nuclear weapons-related budget of his administration has disappointingly risen. The entrenched interests of the defense industry and the deep-rooted Cold War mentality of some nuclear hawks have made the force of resistance too strong to overcome.

Skepticism is mounting over how determined Russia is in its nuclear disarmament, too.

Yet, China is moving ahead with is own nuclear weapons programs, unimpaired by any international agreements. Richard D. Fisher, Jr. concisely described Beijing's arms buildup in Jane's Intelligence Review last year,

Beijing is now deploying or developing up to five intercontinental nuclear-armed ballistic missiles in what amounts to China's most ambitious increase in intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability since the late 1980s.

Concurrent with this modernisation process of its land-based missiles, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) will also soon deploy its new submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), to offer greater flexibility and survivability to China's nuclear forces.

The March issue of the U.S. Naval Institute's Proceedings journal included a survey of foreign navies by Eric Werheim which elaborated on China's nuclear submarine program,

Five Jin-class (Project 094) nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines are planned...and the first unit of the class entered service in 2007....The navy's newest submarine-launched ballistic missile, the JL-2, is expected to enter service by the end of 2010.

And then there is the continued diplomatic support China provides to Iran and North Korea to block or weaken any counteraction against their nuclear weapons programs. Beijing confirmed April 1 that President Hu Jintao will participation in the Nuclear Security Summit on nonproliferation to be held April 12-13 in Washington. The Foreign Ministry said, however, China would stick to its position for a "peaceful resolution" to the Iranian nuclear dispute. Tehran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili has been meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Beijing to craft a response to U.S. and European demands for new UN sanctions on Iran.

Beijing may claim it supports nuclear disarmament and opposes proliferation, but its actions indicate just the opposite.