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China does not have as many nukes as the US or Russia, says ambassador

There is no replacement for the Iran nuclear deal, China's ambassador to Russia believes
Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui  Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS
Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui
© Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

MOSCOW, August 22. /TASS/. China trails behind the United States and Russia as far as the number of nuclear weapons it possesses is concerned, new Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui told TASS.

According to the diplomat, it is absurd to point to China in order to justify Washington’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. "As for the amount of nuclear weapons China has, it is way less than what the US and Russia have. In no way can that be compared," he stressed.

"The INF Treaty is a bilateral agreement between the US and Russia that account for more than 90% of the world’s nuclear arsenal," the envoy said. He noted that China saw no need for its participation in the American-Russian nuclear disarmament negotiation process.

According to the ambassador, the US and Russia bear special responsibility for nuclear disarmament and must continue to reduce their nuclear arsenals in order to lay the groundwork for other countries with nuclear weapons to join a multilateral nuclear disarmament process.

Stance on the role of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

Beijing expects all parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear program to take their obligations seriously, new Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui told TASS.

"The JCPOA is very important and cannot be replaced," he pointed out. "China highly values Iran’s strict compliance with the plan, which was repeatedly confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and hopes that other JCPOA participants will also take their obligations seriously," the Chinese ambassador added.

Zhang Hanhui was hopeful that the international community would make every effort possible to protect the economic benefits the agreement offered to Iran, creating conditions for Tehran to continue implementing its obligations. According to the ambassador, the United States’ rejoining the nuclear deal is "the only real and effective way" to resolve the Iran nuclear issue. "Together with Russia, China will continue to monitor the situation and take active efforts within the United Nations to resolve the Iran nuclear issue and ease tensions," the Chinese ambassador emphasized.

Stance on the US-North Korea consultations

Representatives of the United States and North Korea should resume the talks to achieve a political settlement on the Korean Peninsula as soon as possible, Zhang Hanhui said in an interview with TASS.

"We believe that the current situation requires that North Korea and the US should restart consultations as soon as possible to make new progress in the process of a political settlement on the Korean Peninsula," the diplomat said. "This is something that the whole international community is expecting."

He also called on all the parties concerned "to treasure the hard-achieved easing of the dialogue, demonstrate goodwill and meet each other halfway, making joint effort to advance the political settlement of the issue of the Korean Peninsula and its denuclearization."

According to the ambassador, Russia and China, as the countries that neighbor the Korean Peninsula and permanent members of the UN Security Council, keep in close touch on the issues of this region. "We devised a roadmap on the political resolution of this problem," he recalled. "Fluctuations and twists in the developments on the Korean Peninsula in the last ten years suggest that a way out can only be found through dialogue and consultations."

"Complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, allaying of North Korean security concerns, securing economic development, ensuring long-lasting peace and stability are the goals that China and Russia are working to achieve. The Chinese party will continue to play a constructive role in it," the Chinese ambassador underlined.

Iran nuclear deal issue

In 2015, Iran and six major powers (the five permanent member states of the United Nations Security Council — Russia, the United States, France, the United Kingdom and China — and Germany) agreed on the final Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which particularly stipulated the removal of sanctions imposed on Tehran over its nuclear program.

On May 8, 2018, US President Donald Trump announced Washington’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. In contrast, Great Britain, Germany and France called on other participants in the deal to continue fulfilling it. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow would seek to maintain the agreement.

On May 8, 2019, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that Tehran was reducing its commitments under the JCPOA, saying that the other signatories had two months to return to compliance. The deadline expired on July 7. On July 8, Spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Behrouz Kamalvandi said that Tehran had exceeded the uranium enrichment level set by the JCPOA.

How the INF perished

On August 2, the US withdrew from the INF Treaty claiming that Russia had violated it. However, later on, White House National Security Advisor John Bolton said that one of the reasons behind the move was that the agreement did not cover China.

The INF accord, signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987, took effect on June 1, 1988. It covered deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). Washington accused Russia of violating the deal on numerous occasions, but Moscow firmly dismissed all accusations, countering the US claims by expressing grievances over Washington’s non-compliance.