Beijing unlikely to limit missile reach
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.
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