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The “three musketeers of the sky” – the J-20, J-16 and J-10C – fly in formation in a real-combat scenario training session. (Photo Credit: Screenshot from China Central Television)

BEIJING, May 15. /TASS/. Beijing has no intention of engaging in multilateral arms control talks, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Friday, commenting on a statement by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who had said that the issue of China’s accession to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) was contrived.

“New START remains an important nuclear treaty between Russia and the US and requires great attention. It is the foundation of strategic stability for the two countries, as well as the basis of global strategic stability. China has no intention of engaging in any trilateral talks on strategic arms control,” the Chinese diplomat pointed out.

Zhao Lijian added that Russia and the United States “possess the largest nuclear arsenals” and should have a special responsibility for reducing them and creating conditions for other countries to join multilateral arms control deals.

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Zakharova said on Thursday that Moscow considered the issue of China’s accession to New START to be completely contrived. She emphasized that Russia was ready to support any multilateral schemes that would contribute to ensuring global security and stability, provided they were implemented on a voluntary basis and the interests and concerns of all potential participants were taken into account.

New START issue
New START, which came into force in 2011, limits Russia and the US to no more than 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, no more than 1,550 deployed warheads and 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers. The Treaty is set to remain in effect for ten years (until 2021) unless a new document is signed to replace it. The document can also be extended for no more than five years (that is, until 2026) by mutual agreement of the parties.

US President Donald Trump said in response to a TASS question on November 4, 2019, that the United States would like to make a new arms control agreement with Russia and China, and maybe some other countries. A US Department of State official said later that despite Beijing’s refusal to take part in arms control talks, Washington was interested in launching a strategic security dialogue with China that would be similar to its dialogue with Russia.