GENEVA (AP) – A US diplomat focused on disarmament said on Thursday that China was “considering” the development of naval and air autonomous nuclear weapons systems, warning that any such development could undermine strategic stability.
Ambassador Robert Wood, the US envoy to the Geneva Conference on Disarmament, said China had not yet developed or succeeded in arming the technology. But his comments suggest that China is interested in so-called “exotic nuclear weapons” such as nuclear-powered submarines and nuclear-powered cruise missiles being developed by Russia.
“It’s something they’re watching,” Wood said. “If they had to develop … these types of weapons and air systems, it could change the dynamic environment of strategic stability.”
The United States does not have any type of system.
“This was not where China was 10 years ago,” Wood added, noting the “upward trajectory” China is taking in terms of the quantity and quality of its weapons systems. “They are pursuing weapons similar to some of the nuclear delivery systems that the Russians are pursuing.”
Russia has said the development of such weapons is aimed at countering US defense against ballistic missiles. Moscow has expressed concern that such a defense could ultimately undermine the viability of its strategic offensive nuclear forces, although Washington insists its defense system is designed to protect the U.S. homeland from North Korean missiles, not Russian or Chinese.
Asked about Wood’s comments on China’s interest in developing nuclear cruise missiles and submarines, Hans Christensen, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project, said he had not heard of any US government officials doing so. statement.
But “it’s no surprise that China will develop and research technologies that it sees others working on,” Christensen, an experienced analyst at Chinese, Russian and American nuclear arsenals, wrote in an email.
He noted that the development of weapons technology, but leaving them on the shelf instead of unfolding, “is an old trademark of the Chinese.”
Wood’s comments are part of broader US pressure to involve China in strategic negotiations. He declared Beijing’s lack of transparency and the lack of US-China communication between the United States and Russia – and the former Soviet Union – for decades.
“Until China sits bilaterally with the United States, the risk of a devastating arms race will continue to increase – and it’s not in anyone’s interest,” he said.
Robert Burns of Washington contributed to this report.
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