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Interview

US-Russia-China nuclear pact 'would be a positive': UN official

Disarmament diplomat urges Chinese to join new version of 1987 treaty

United Nations disarmament official Izumi Nakamitsu urged China to be more active in international discussions on nuclear nonproliferation.
United Nations disarmament official Izumi Nakamitsu urged China to be more active in international discussions on nuclear nonproliferation. (Photo by Sora Takahashi)   © Photo by Sora Takahashi

TOKYO -- It "would be a positive" for the U.S., Russia and China to establish a trilateral framework limiting nuclear weapons, a United Nations disarmament official told Nikkei, in light of Washington's plans to pull out of a treaty with Moscow that helped end the Cold War.

Izumi Nakamitsu, the U.N.'s undersecretary-general and high representative for disarmament affairs, expressed concern in a Tokyo interview that tensions between the U.S. and Russia are "spreading into all fields of national security."

The two countries should "solve their problems through diplomatic efforts," she said.

In October, U.S. President Donald Trump cited alleged Russian violations in announcing that he would pull out of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which banned the U.S. and then-Soviet Union from possessing ground-launched ballistic missiles with ranges from 500 km to 5,500 km. the two sides continue to spar verbally.

Trump's move is seen as aimed not only at Russia but as a response to the military buildup by China, which was not a party to the bilateral agreement. "China holds great responsibility and a major role" in the matter, Nakamitsu said, urging Beijing to play an active part in discussions on disarmament and nuclear nonproliferation.

Russia has suggested that China attend negotiations on a new nuclear pact with the U.S., Nikkei reported last week.

The U.N. is becoming increasingly vital as an international mediator, said Nakamitsu, as "direct talks between countries is growing more difficult" amid rising tensions between major nations.

"The U.N. will probably have more opportunities to provide a setting for discussions," she added, on matters like telecommunications technology, which has become a flashpoint in U.S. frictions with China.

On a related note, the official said that in order to achieve the complete denuclearization of North Korea, Washington and Pyongyang "need to share concrete working schedules as a first step." Six months on from the two sides' historic summit in Singapore, tangible results have yet to emerge.

"There is a need to strictly enforce sanctions adopted by the U.N. Security Council," especially among Japan, China and South Korea, Nakamitsu said.

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