China on Tuesday called for the preservation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, saying the time-honored treaty has been a cornerstone of global strategic balance and stability.
Speaking at a one-day round-table gathering on strategic balance and international security held by the Canadian Foreign Ministry in Ottawa, Sha Zukang, China's chief arms control official and head of the arms control department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said the treaty proves a legal "barrier" against threats to undermine strategic balance and stability.
He was addressing worldwide concerns about the US plans to walk away from the ABM treaty by developing a so-called National Missile Defense (NMD) system in pursuit of its absolute superiority as the only superpower.
The ABM Treaty "has served as a corner stone of global strategic balance and stability," ever since it was concluded between the United States and the former Soviet Union in 1972, the Chinese disarmament official pointed out.
"In the post-Cold War era today, the treaty still provides a security framework for multilateral nuclear disarmament, and for further bilateral reductions of nuclear arsenals by the US and Russia," he noted.
The treaty ensures that "a strategic balance can exist between a small nuclear-weapon state and a nuclear superpower, so long as the former possesses a second strike capability, that is, the capability to inflict unbearable damage on the latter after sustaining the first nuclear attack," he said.
"The significance of the ABM treaty lies in the fact that, by prohibiting the deployment of a nationwide missile defense system, it has maintained the strategic balance between the two nuclear superpowers, and by extension, has maintained to a lesser degree the strategic balance among all the nuclear-weapon states," said the Chinese official.
"The strategic significance of the treaty goes far beyond the scope of the US-Russia bilateral relationship. It has been universally recognized as playing an indispensable role in maintaining global strategic stability, promoting nuclear disarmament and enhancing international security," he added.
Sha also reaffirmed China's support for the UN General Assembly resolution adopted two years ago on "Preservation of and Compliance with the ABM Treaty."
"If, however, the treaty is amended, as requested by the US, it would certainly lose all its significance, and the global strategic balance and stability would be the victim," he warned.
The Chinese official repeated the call for the US government to heed the appeal of the international community and abandon the NMD program.
The US NMD plan has disturbed most of the countries in the world, including many of the US allies in NATO.
Canada, for one, signed a joint statement with Russia in December 2000, confirming their "commitment to strengthening strategic stability and international security."
The Canada-Russia Joint Statement also described the ABM Treaty as "a corner stone of strategic stability and an important foundation for international efforts on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation."