US SAYS CHINA MAY HAVE CONDUCTED LOW-LEVEL NUCLEAR TEST BLASTS SECRETLY

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US concerns about Beijing’s possible breaches of a “zero yield” standard for test blasts have been prompted by activities at China’s Lop Nur nuclear test site throughout 2019, the State Department report said.

WashingtonChina may have secretly set off low-level underground nuclear test explosions despite claiming to observe an international pact banning such blasts, the US State Department said in a report on Wednesday that could fuel US-Chinese tensions.

COUNTER STATEMENT BY CHINA

“Beijing is modernising its nuclear arsenal while the United States handcuffs itself with one-sided arms-control,” Republican Senator Tom Cotton said on Twitter. “China has proven it can’t work with us honestly.”

Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, dismissed the accusation and insisted that Beijing remains committed to a moratorium on nuclear tests. He also accused the U.S. of making false claims at a time when Washington is already eager to blame China for the coronavirus pandemic.

“China has always adopted a responsible attitude, earnestly fulfilling the international obligations and promises it has assumed,” Zhao said at a briefing. “The U.S. accusation against China is made of thin air, which is totally unfounded and not worth refuting.”

Zhao also accused the U.S. of hypocrisy by pointing out Washington’s decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (IMF) Treaty and other international agreements meant to restrict nuclear weapons development.

EXPERT IN ARMS CONTROL TWEET ON TWITTER

Jeffrey Lewis, an expert in arms control at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, called the evidence “thin” in a response on twitter.

“U.S., Russia, and China all conduct subcritical tests. Subcritical tests are not prohibited the CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty), which is not in force and which neither the U.S. nor China has ratified,” Lewis wrote. “From satellites and seismic stations, subcritical tests are indistinguishable from low yield nuclear tests.”

He added that the whole issue is really a “matter of belief” because it’s hard to prove that Russia or China are not “up to no good.”

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