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China is also certain that fiscal pressures to significantly cut American defence expenditure are as much behind the logic of deep cuts as the traditional framework of arms control with Russia.
Much like the West that saw Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's nuclear disarmament initiatives nearly three decades ago as stemming from Russia's economic weakness, China could interpret Obama's moves as reflecting long-term American decline.
If China is unconcerned about deep cuts in American nuclear weaponry, some among its East Asian neighbours are deeply worried about the credibility of America's "extended deterrence".
America's Asian allies, especially Japan and South Korea, chose not to develop their own nuclear weapons, on the bet that the US "nuclear umbrella" works for them. During the Cold War, the US extended deterrence against the Soviet threat seemed credible for Washington's allies.
Today, amidst the rise of China and its increasing political assertiveness, many in Japan and South Korea wonder about the sustainability of US nuclear guarantees if Washington brings about rapid reductions in the size of its arsenal.
Many American arms controllers dismiss the Asian fears about extended deterrence as overblown. But for East Asia, living through a historic shift in the regional balance in favour of China, deep cuts in the US nuclear arsenal may reinforce their apprehensions about America's ability to sustain the regional balance of power.
In contrast to some in East Asia, India has every reason to welcome Obama's plans to negotiate deeper nuclear cuts with Russia. Like China, India has seen deep cuts in the US and Russian arsenals as an important first step on the road towards nuclear disarmament.
When Obama came to India in November 2010, he and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reaffirmed their shared commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free world and called for "meaningful dialogue among all states possessing nuclear weapons to build trust and confidence and for reducing the salience of nuclear weapons in international affairs".
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