Mon, Feb 05, 2018 - Page 1 News List

China criticizes Washington for nuclear adversary claims in Pentagon document

AP, BEIJING

The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee returns to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia on Feb. 6, 2013.

Photo: Reuters

China yesterday criticized a US government report that cast Beijing as a potential nuclear adversary and called on Washington to reduce its own much larger arsenal and join in promoting regional stability.

A Chinese Ministry of National Defense statement said China’s nuclear arsenal is the “minimum level” required for security.

It pledged never to be the first to use nuclear weapons “under any circumstances.”

The sweeping US nuclear strategy review issued on Friday said that Washington wants to prevent Beijing from mistakenly concluding that any use of nuclear weapons, however limited, is acceptable.

“The Chinese side expresses firm opposition” to the report, ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang (任國強) said.

“We hope the US will abandon a Cold War mentality and earnestly shoulder its special and prior responsibility for its own nuclear disarmament,” Ren said.

The report makes “wild guesses” about China’s intentions and exaggerates the threat of its nuclear force, he added.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army has the world’s fifth-largest nuclear arsenal with 300 warheads, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The US and Russia each have about 7,000 warheads, or about 20 times as many as Beijing.

The statement said global peace and development “are irreversible trends” and called on Washington to work with Beijing to “jointly safeguard peace, stability and prosperity in this region and the world.”

Iran also reacted to the US report yesterday, accusing Washington of threatening Russia with new atomic weapons.

“The Americans are shamelessly threatening Russia with a new atomic weapon,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist who opened the way to Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers — including long-time adversary Washingon — said in a speech.

“The same people who supposedly believe that using weapons of mass destruction is a crime against humanity ... are talking about new weapons to threaten or use against rivals,” he said in a televised address.

US President Donald Trump’s nuclear doctrine breaks with his predecessor, Barack Obama, by ending a push to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in US military policy.

In a written statement, Trump on Friday said that the new US strategy is designed to make use of nuclear weapons less likely.

However, arms control groups criticized it as reckless.

Friday’s report endorsed adhering to US arms control agreements, including the New START that limits the US and Russia each to 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads on a maximum of 700 deployed launchers.

The US government said it has been in compliance since August last year and expects Moscow to comply by the deadline, which is today.

Additional reporting by AFP and Reuters

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