China has accused the United States of falsely claiming it secretly conducted nuclear tests, adding that the matter has been used by the White House to push a West-led nuclear treaty.
“China maintained a high level of activity at its Lop Nur nuclear weapons test site throughout 2019. China’s possible preparation to operate its Lop Nur test site year-round, its use of explosive containment chambers, extensive excavation activities at Lop Nur, and lack of transparency on its nuclear testing activities – which has included frequently blocking the flow of data from its International Monitoring System (IMS) stations to the International Data Center operated by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization – raise concerns regarding its adherence to the ‘zero yield’ standard adhered to by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France in their respective nuclear weapons testing moratoria,” a Compliance Report published by the US State Department on Wednesday said.
Speaking about the activities in the Lop Nur test site, Yang Chengjun, a Chinese expert on missile technology and nuclear strategy, told the Global Times: “The site was built in 1960s. So it is the construction machinery undertaking maintenance work. No special chamber could completely seal off a nuclear test blast, and radioactive materials are bound to leak to some extent and cause local earthquakes.”
“The US has been trying to tie China down in a Western countries-led nuclear arms control arrangement, but China should not participate because the US possesses far more nuclear weapons than China, and the US has never stopped developing nuclear weapons,” Yang added.
Reacting to the accusations, Zhao Lijian, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, said: “We refuse to dignify the groundless US allegation with a refutation.”
Zhao criticized the US for pulling out of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that bans the usage of missiles with ranges between 500-5500km; and 2015’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the Iran nuclear deal- according to which the US would lift all nuclear-related economic sanctions in exchange to Tehran’s reduction in its nuclear activities.
“Under the banner of ‘America first,’ it pulled out of the INF and the JCPOA, unsigned the Arms Trade Treaty, and stood in the way of negotiations for a protocol that includes a verification regime to the Biological Weapons Convention. Instead of destroying its chemical weapons stockpile, it sought a comprehensive military build-up, seriously disrupting global strategic equilibrium and stability and hampering international arms control and disarmament process,” the MFA spokesman added.
Zhao added that China had been among the first countries to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and China always supported the aim and purpose of the treaty, kept its promise of suspending nuclear tests, and made important contributions to the work of the treaty's Preparatory Commission.