Northeast AsiaWeapons Proliferation

U.S. urges discussions with PRC on nuclear risk reduction


The United States does not expect formal nuclear arms-control negotiations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to start soon, but it wants discussions to begin on practical risk-reduction measures, a senior U.S. official said.

Pranay Vaddi, the National Security Council’s senior director for arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation, told a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that it was important to have initial arms control talks with the PRC in November 2023. But he stressed the need to involve key Chinese decision makers or influencers on the country’s nuclear posture.

“We know that we are not going to leap into formal arms control negotiations anytime soon. We know that their arsenal is still being built up,” Vaddi told the Center for Strategic and International Studies in mid-January 2024. “On the arms control front, we really want to see China respond to some of our more substantive ideas on risk reduction, and we’re still waiting to see if they will.”

The November talks were the first between the nations on nuclear arms control in nearly five years and came amid growing U.S. concerns about the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) nuclear buildup.

During their summit that same month, U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping announced a resumption of military-to-military dialogue. The U.S. and the PRC held two days of military talks in Washington recently, the first such discussions since mid-2022.

“As it relates to arms control, we want to see some practical measures start to get discussed,” Vaddi said, whether those talks are bilateral or in the context of the United Nations Security Council’s permanent members: France, the PRC, Russia, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

“For us to have an actual channel devoted to these issues, we want to use these channels for specific purposes, and that’s to solve some of these problems that we’ve identified,” he said.

The PRC has more than 500 operational nuclear warheads and likely will have over 1,000 by 2030, the U.S. Defense Department reported in October 2023.

The U.S. has a stockpile of about 3,700 nuclear warheads, of which more than 1,400 strategic nuclear warheads are deployed.

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