Putin supplying China with uranium for nuclear weapons, US warns3 min read
Christine Wormuth on increasing USA tensions with China
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The US government has voiced concern that the Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom is providing enriched uranium to China. US assistant secretary of defence for space policy, John Plumb, warned the intelligence gathered in Washington is “very troubling”.
Speaking to a congressional committee, he said: “It’s very troubling to see Russia and China co-operating on this.
“They may have talking points around it but there’s no getting around the fact that breeder reactors are plutonium, and plutonium is for weapons, and it matches our concerns about China’s increased expansion of its nuclear forces, because you need plutonium for more weapons.”
Rosatom is a Russian state corporation that specialises in nuclear energy.
Mr Plumb said China and Russia have placed nuclear weapons, space warfare and long-range strike at the centre of their strategies to counter the United States and its allies and partners.
He continued: “China is engaged in a significant and fast-paced expansion and diversification of its nuclear forces. Also, Russia and China view space as a warfighting domain.”
Mr Plumb claimed China also has an ever-growing inventory of sophisticated long-range strike systems putting US forces at risk at greater and greater distances.
He added that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “irresponsible nuclear sabre-rattling” has further underscored the importance of the US nuclear deterrent, which is the bedrock of national security.
The warning came two days before US President Joe Biden and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen met in Washington to discuss concerns over fears China is considering providing weaponry to Russia for use in the war.
The White House says Beijing has yet to deliver weapons to Russia but is more seriously weighing the prospect as Russia has burned through ammunition in a conflict that has gone on much longer than Russian President Vladimir Putin anticipated.
European nations have had a less adversarial relationship with China than the US has, but the dynamic has been evolving since the start of the war.
This week the Dutch government announced it would join the US in imposing export restrictions aimed at limiting China’s access to materials used to make advanced processor chips.
In a speech before the German parliament last week, Chancellor Olaf Scholz called on China to “use your influence in Moscow to press for the withdrawal of Russian troops, and do not supply weapons to the aggressor Russia”.
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Chinese leader Xi Jinping was awarded a third five-year term as the nation’s president Friday.
The endorsement of Xi’s appointment by the ceremonial National People’s Congress was a foregone conclusion for a leader who has sidelined potential rivals and filled the top ranks of the ruling Communist Party with his supporters since taking power in 2012.
The vote for Xi was 2,952 to 0 by the NPC, members of which are appointed by the ruling party.
Xi, 69, had himself named to a third five-year term as party general secretary in October, breaking with a tradition under which Chinese leaders handed over power once a decade.
A two-term limit on the figurehead presidency was deleted from the Chinese Constitution earlier, prompting suggestions he might stay in power for life.
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