The upcoming Hanoi summit and the United States’ withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty are two important developments in the area of nuclear arms control with significant implications for the Asia-Pacific region. In this episode, Tong Zhao spoke with Li Bin, senior fellow in the Carnegie Endowment’s Nuclear Policy and Asia programs, about the importance of these two critical nuclear arms control issues and their implications for China.
Li said the United States and North Korea are focused on two separate issues entering the Hanoi summit: Washington prioritizes denuclearization while Pyongyang wants to advance the peace process. While China would be pleased to see negotiations in Vietnam advance both of these goals, Li argued Beijing will oppose any developments that renew the possibility of conflict breaking out on the Korean Peninsula. If negotiations collapse, Beijing will focus its efforts on bringing discussions back on track as it has previously done. Regarding the United States’ recent withdrawal from the INF Treaty, Li expressed his view that China did not factor into the Trump administration’s decision. He pointed to the administration’s disdain for multilateral arms control agreements and its view that the United States can win an arms race as primary reasons for Washington’s withdrawal. Li advocated for a new effort from the U.S., China, and Russia to restart arms control discussions as a means to prevent a new arms race.
Tong Zhao is a fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, based at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing.
Li Bin is a senior fellow working jointly in the Nuclear Policy Program and the Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.