Jul 30, 2021 14:16 UTC
  • Russia calls on Britain, France to join wider nuclear talks with US

Russia has called on Britain and France to join wider nuclear arms control talks with the United States even as Washington wants China to be included in the negotiations.

According to reports, Anatoly Antonov, Russia's ambassador to the US, said on Thursday that enlarging the framework of the arms control talks to include more nuclear powers would be inevitable and that Moscow sees Britain and France as priorities in that regard.

"This question has taken on particular relevance in light of London's recent decision to increase the maximum level of nuclear warheads by 40 percent — to 260 units," Antonov said in comments published by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also said in separate comments reported by the Interfax news agency that Washington wanted China to be included in wider talks on nuclear arms control.

Senior US and Russian officials met in Geneva on Wednesday to restart talks to ease tensions between the world's largest nuclear weapons powers with ties at post-Cold War lows.

Both Moscow and Washington hailed the meeting as positive but Ryabkov, the head of the Russian delegation to the Geneva talks, said that the two sides had failed to reach an agreement on the ways to overcome the current crisis “that clearly emerged in the arms control sphere.”

Russia and the US agreed to hold a further plenary round of high-level talks in late September.

The Wednesday meeting was the first tangible outcome from last month’s summit between the Russian and American presidents, whose countries hold 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.

Moscow and Washington have been exploring ways to move beyond the New START treaty that Biden and Putin have agreed to extend until 2026.

Meanwhile, London announced on March 16 that it planned to increase its nuclear warhead stockpile and boost alliances with Asian allies. The review urges the UK to increase its cap on warheads from 180 to 260 by the middle of the decade.

France’s 56 reactors make the country the second-largest atomic nation by capacity behind the US. French President Emmanuel Macron is a vocal supporter of nuclear power.