Trump administration says it will not conduct nuclear weapons test ‘at this time’

“We made it very clear, as we have since the time we adopted a test moratorium in 1992, that we maintain and will maintain the ability to conduct nuclear tests if we see any reason to do so, whatever the reason,” said Marshall Billingslea, the United States’ top envoy for nuclear negotiations, while speaking to reporters on Wednesday. “But with that said, I don’t know of any particular reason to do the test at this stage.”

The chief nuclear negotiator said the Russians had asked him about the possibility of a US nuclear test. USA During their meetings, according to a media report on a test discussed by US officials last month.

“I’m not going to shut the door on him, because why would we,” said Billingslea.

President Donald Trump has made a nuclear deal with China and Russia a priority. Despite Trump claiming that the Chinese have cited interest in participating, Beijing repeatedly rejected invitations to participate in the discussions.

The United States failed to convince China to attend the nuclear talks this week in Vienna. Billingslea said it was “regrettable” that they did not attend and that Beijing has an “obligation” to negotiate.

“It is incumbent on the Chinese to recognize that they have an obligation to negotiate with us and the Russians in good faith. And we intend to fulfill that obligation,” said Billingslea.

Billingslea said the United States has informed other nations about American intelligence about China’s nuclear program. She did not elaborate, but predicted a “tidal wave” of mounting international pressure on China to join the negotiations.

“China cannot be allowed to completely derail and alter the strategic stability and security that was achieved through many, many decades of arms control negotiations and agreements,” said Billingslea. “However, that is precisely what they threaten to do with their accumulation.”

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China is engaged in “rapid accumulation” with its accelerated nuclear program aimed at achieving “nuclear parity” with the United States and Russia, Billingslea said.

China currently has far fewer nuclear weapons than the reserves of cold war enemies. The United States and Russia have at least 5,000 nuclear warheads, while China is estimated to only have around 320, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The Trump administration has recently focused on developing some new nuclear weapons.

The US Army USA It deployed a new low-performance nuclear weapon launched by a submarine earlier this year, the first new US nuclear weapon. USA In decades. The weapon was requested in the 2018 Trump Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, which warned that adversaries might believe they could use a smaller nuclear weapon against the US. USA Or its allies without fear that EE. .

Weapons development is seen by the Pentagon as critical to countering the threat posed by Russia’s smallest tactical nuclear weapons arsenal. But the rhetoric of Trump administration officials continues to focus on China.

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In Vienna, Billingslea tweeted photos of the Chinese flags at the negotiating table in front of the vacant seats, although there were no expectations that the Chinese would attend the talks, and despite the Russians opposing the move the Chinese called. ” performance art “.

“It was pointed out that unfortunately China defended us all and that is regrettable,” said Billingslea, adding that the United States brought flags of the three nations to the meetings.

The Trump administration has pulled out of several nuclear deals with Russia in recent years. The new START Treaty, the latest legally binding agreement that limits US nuclear arsenals. USA And Russia is still in effect, but is set to expire in less than a year.

The United States would be open to extending the treaty for less than 5 years but, calling it an “outdated construction of the cold war,” Billingslea said the United States would only do so if progress was made to get China to the table.

He added that there could be another round of talks in late July or early August, and said he expected China to attend.