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Global Insights: Chinese Offer Hope, Obstacles for Obama Nuclear Agenda

Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2009

In his address during the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue late last month in Washington, President Barack Obama personally appealed to the visiting senior Chinese officials for assistance in achieving his nuclear nonproliferation agenda. Based on the speech Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi made on Aug. 12 at the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament, it appears that his message was only partly received. Yang made clear that the People's Republic of China (PRC) would provide only limited assistance with respect to several of the most important U.S. goals.

President Obama stressed the need for concerted action with respect to curbing the nuclear weapons aspirations of Iran and North Korea . "This is not about singling out any one nation -- it is about the responsibility of all nations." Other U.S. officials pressed their Chinese colleagues to help pursue additional elements of the president's nonproliferation agenda as enunciated during his April 5 speech in Prague. These goals included preventing non-state actors or additional states from acquiring nuclear weapons by strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as well as by adopting other nuclear safety and security measures; reducing the stockpiles of existing nuclear weapons states through deeper and broader arms control initiatives; and bringing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force. ...

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