US official urges China, Russia to declare only humans, not AI, control nuclear weapons

By Reuters   May 2, 2024 | 01:19 am PT
US official urges China, Russia to declare only humans, not AI, control nuclear weapons
Paul Dean, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Arms Control, Deterrence, and Stability (ADS) at the U.S. Department of State. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of State
A senior U.S. official on Thursday urged China and Russia to match declarations by the United States and others that only humans, and never artificial intelligence, would make decisions on deploying nuclear weapons.

State Department arms control official Paul Dean told an online briefing that Washington had made a "clear and strong commitment" that humans had total control over nuclear weapons, adding that France and Britain had done the same.

"We would welcome a similar statement by China and the Russian Federation," said Dean, principal deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Arms Control, Deterrence and Stability.

"We think it is an extremely important norm of responsible behaviour and we think it is something that would be very welcome in a P5 context," he said, referring to the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

Dean's remarks come as the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden tries to deepen separate discussions with China over both nuclear weapons policy and the growth of artificial intelligence.

The Chinese defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The spread of artificial intelligence technology surfaced during sweeping talks between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing on April 26.

The two sides agreed to hold their first bilateral talks on artificial intelligence in the coming weeks, Blinken said, adding that they would share views on how best to manage risks and safety surrounding the technology.

As part of normalizing military communications, U.S. and Chinese officials resumed nuclear weapons discussions in January, but formal arms control negotiations are not expected any time soon.

China, which is expanding its nuclear weapons capabilities, urged in February that the largest nuclear powers should first negotiate a no-first-use treaty between each other.

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