Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 74

Russia and China warned this week that U.S. plans to develop a national missile defense system would threaten the 1972 ABM treaty. And that, they said, would both undermine international stability and risk the start of a new arms race. In a communique released following talks in Moscow, the Russian and Chinese delegations also criticized the possible deployment of a theater missile defense system in Asia. The statement said that such a system–which is currently being discussed by the United States and Japan–would “result in an increase in tension in trouble spots within the region” (AP, Russian agencies, April 14; Itar-Tass, April 15).

This week’s statement is a reaffirmation of Moscow’s and Beijing’s oft-stated opposition to current U.S. missile defense plans. The talks in Moscow were also aimed at underscoring the fact that consultations on this issue between the two countries are ongoing. In March of this year Russian and Chinese officials first made public that they had begun joint discussions dealing–in particular–with the U.S.-Japanese proposal to develop a theater missile defense system in Asia. Only a few days after that announcement, however, Beijing appeared to rebuff Russian claims that the two sides were discussing possible joint measures as a response to U.S.-Japanese missile defense talks. “The time has not yet come for that,” Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji reportedly said (Itar-Tass, March 15; see the Monitor, March 12, 16).