Bei­jing un­likely to limit mis­sile reach

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

race aren’t promis­ing.

In­deed, state-af­fil­i­ated me­dia in China have flatly re­jected the idea of a multi­na­tional mis­sile agree­ment, and an­a­lysts say China and Rus­sia could sim­ply stall in the hopes that a new U.S. pres­i­dent is elected in 2020.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion for­mally an­nounced that it was leav­ing the 1987 INF Treaty ne­go­ti­ated by Pres­i­dent Rea­gan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gor­bachev. The agree­ment pro­hib­ited both coun­tries from de­ploy­ing short- and medium-range “tac­ti­cal” nu­clear mis­siles. The deal cov­ered weapons with a range of about 300 to 3,400 miles and was de­signed to stop low­er­ing the thresh­old for a nu­clear ex­change be­tween the Cold War ad­ver­saries in a di­vided Europe.

But Rus­sia has been sys­tem­at­i­cally vi­o­lat­ing the deal in re­cent years, ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials and de­fense an­a­lysts say, and the White House ar­gued that the U.S. was plac­ing it­self at a strate­gic dis­ad­van­tage by con­tin­u­ing to fol­low the terms of the INF.

Moscow re­sponded an­grily to the Amer­i­can exit and pledged to ramp up its mis­sile sys­tem.

In ad­di­tion, Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin has boasted of an “in­vin­ci­ble” hy­per­sonic mis­sile sys­tem that wouldn’t have been cov­ered by the INF. Such weapons are of grave con­cern to U.S. mil­i­tary and in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials, and the Pen­tagon last month un­veiled a broad new mis­sile de­fense strat­egy aimed at coun­ter­ing those and other cut­ting-edge weapons.

In­volv­ing China

As the U.S. and Rus­sia be­gin ramp­ing up for what could be­come a re­newed arms race, an­a­lysts say the pres­i­dent is right to in­clude China in the dis­cus­sion, es­pe­cially given Bei­jing’s provoca­tive pos­ture in the South China Sea and else­where in the re­gion.

While Moscow clearly was skirt­ing the terms of the INF, Bei­jing has never been con­strained by terms of the treaty.

“They have a to­tal of about 300 nu­clear de­ployed weapons. About two-thirds of those are on short- and in­ter­me­di­aterange bal­lis­tic mis­siles,” said Daryl G. Kim­ball, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Arms Con­trol As­so­ci­a­tion.

The Chi­nese also have as many as 1,000 non-nu­clear bal­lis­tic mis­siles that fall out­side the terms of the INF, Mr. Kim­ball said. One of those weapons is the DF-26 mis­sile, in­for­mally dubbed the “Guam Killer” be­cause of its abil­ity to reach the U.S. ter­ri­tory.

The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment also is working on hy­per­sonic weapons sim­i­lar to the ones Mr. Putin boasted of last year.

Even be­fore Mr. Trump’s ad­dress on last week, Bei­jing be­gan push­ing hard against the idea of the U.S. try­ing to force China into a sweep­ing 21st-cen­tury treaty.

In an ed­i­to­rial pub­lished, the state­con­trolled Global Times news­pa­per said the gov­ern­ment will never be a party to a mul­ti­lat­eral mis­sile deal.

“As far as China is con­cerned, the U.S. in­tends to make the INF Treaty a mul­ti­lat­eral agree­ment, which may be­come an ex­cuse for Wash­ing­ton to ex­ert pres­sure

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