Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
China to Lead Powers' Effort to Define "Nuclear Terms," U.S. Official Says
A senior U.S. State Department official on Monday highlighted China's role in heading up an effort by the five nuclear powers to establish accepted definitions for nuclear terms that could make it easier to understand Beijing's nuclear arms strategy and lay the groundwork for future arms control talks (see GSN, July 2).
China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States agreed to pursue the effort during a meeting in Washington last month on implementation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Establishing a "glossary of definitions for key nuclear terms ... will increase P-5 mutual understanding and facilitate further P-5 discussions on nuclear matters," acting Undersecretary of State Rose Gottemoeller said in a Huffington Post commentary. "Developing more mutual cooperation of this kind is a positive step that can lead to deeper engagement on nuclear weapons issues and greater mutual confidence" (Rose Gottemoeller, Huffington Post, July 9).
Beijing has not previously headed such an effort by the five powers on nuclear matters, Reuters in June quoted a U.S. government source as saying.
"It's a very good step," Gottemoeller said to the news agency at the time. "The fact that they are shouldering the responsibilities for this working group, I think, is a good sign of their interest of developing more mutual cooperation of this kind, leading to greater predictability and greater mutual confidence."
The ultimate goal is to produce increased transparency regarding the nuclear arms operations of the five countries, according to Gottemoeller.
"(For) over 40 years with the Soviet Union and now the Russian Federation we have been talking about important issues of nuclear doctrine, strategy and then some of the technical nitty-gritty that goes into an arms control treaty," she told Reuters. "We really have a lot of history with the Russian Federation but certainly with China, we do not have that same depth."
China "has been least forthcoming" about its nuclear capabilities, said Daryl Kimball, head of the Arms Control Association. "With transparency comes greater knowledge, greater understanding and more stability, more predictable reactions (by) others."
China is believed to have roughly 240 nuclear warheads, according to Kimball's organization. By comparison, Russia is believed to hold about 5,500 stored and active warheads, the United States 5,000, France under 300 and the United Kingdom as many as 225 (Arshad Mohammed, Reuters, June 29).
Gottemoeller noted on Monday that the Obama administration in 2010 openly stated that as of the preceding year the United States held a total of 5,113 nuclear warheads. Washington's other transparency measures include "participating in voluntary and treaty-based inspections measures; working with other nations on military-to-military, scientific, and lab exchanges, sponsoring site visits; and frequently briefing others on our nuclear programs and disarmament efforts," according to the Huffington Post commentary.
"In this spirit, the United States briefed participants at the P-5 conference on U.S. activities at the Nevada National Security Site to encourage discussion on additional approaches to transparency," she wrote. "And in a tour of the U.S. Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, which is located at the State Department, P-5 representatives observed how the United States maintains a communications center capable of simultaneously implementing notification regimes under a number of arms control treaties and agreements."
Last month's event was third such meeting by the five powers. Another is planned for next year (Gottemoeller, Huffington Post).
March 12, 2013
The UNSCR 1540 Resource Collection examines implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires all states to implement measures aimed at preventing non-state actors from acquiring NBC weapons, related materials, and their means of delivery. It details implementation efforts in all of the regions and countries of the world to-date.
Next Steps in Reducing Nuclear Risks: The Pace of Nonproliferation Work Today Doesn't Match the Urgency of the Threat
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The fifth in a series of Wall Street Journal op-eds calling for bold action to reduce nuclear dangers.
This article provides an overview of China’s historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.