China mulls joining U.N. talks on treaty to ban nuclear weapons

Kyodo

China, one of the five major states possessing nuclear weapons, is thinking of joining U.N. talks on a treaty outlawing nuclear arms starting late March in New York, diplomatic sources said Wednesday.

China has heard the views of countries promoting the treaty such as Austria and Mexico in a meeting earlier this month ahead of the start of negotiations at the U.N. headquarters, the sources said.

A senior official of the Chinese Foreign Ministry who was at a disarmament-related international meeting in Mexico City admitted Wednesday that China is considering joining the talks but said a final decision has yet to be made.

The official also said China has talked with the four other major states possessing nuclear weapons regarding the matter.

The first preparatory meeting for the treaty will take place at the United Nations in New York from Thursday.

The four other nuclear states, the United States, Britain, France and Russia, have said they are against the enactment of the treaty after talking to those promoting it.

Japan, meanwhile, has not clarified whether it will join the negotiations, apparently in consideration of its key security ally the United States, which offers Japan “extended deterrence,” or the U.S. commitment to use nuclear weapons to deter against attacks on allies.

In the meeting earlier this month, China invited envoys of countries promoting the enactment of the nuke ban treaty to its representative office in Geneva and asked in detail about the outlook for the negotiations, the sources said.

China also asked the envoys what possible influence Beijing would have if it were to join the talks, the sources said.

In the vote in December for the U.N. resolution to convene negotiations on the treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, the United States, Britain, France and Russia along with Japan voted against it, while China abstained.

More than 30 countries, including Austria and Mexico, proposed the draft for the resolution.