U.S. Envoy: Biden to Pursue Arms Control, Seeks to Engage China

GENEVA (Reuters) -
U.S. Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament Robert Wood. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse/File Photo)

The Biden administration views the New Start Treaty clinched with Russia this week as the beginning of engagement on strategic issues including multilateral arms control, a U.S. envoy said on Thursday.

Robert Wood, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, called in a speech to the U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament for a new arms control drive that “covers more weapons, and eventually more countries.”

“The United States will also seek to engage China on nuclear arms control and risk reduction. I hope that China will join us in that effort,” said Wood, who also serves as U.S. Commissioner for the New START Treaty’s Bilateral Consultative Commission.

The United States and Russia announced on Wednesday they had extended the New START arms control treaty for five years, preserving the last treaty limiting deployments of the world’s two largest strategic nuclear arsenals.

Russian Ambassador Gennady Gatilov, a former deputy foreign minister, also took the floor at the Geneva talks to praise the treaty extension.

Israeli Ambassador Meirav Eilon Shahar said the pact and direct dialogue between the two world powers testified to a “shared goal of enhancing global security and stability.”

Argentina’s delegate said the Geneva forum – moribund for the last 20 years, unable to launch negotiations – was in need of a “new breath of life” and the U.S.-Russian deal had renewed hope that multilateral negotiations could be re-initiated.