The Trump administration has chosen one Marshall Billingslea to be its special envoy for nuclear talks, as the US prepares to begin negotiating fresh terms with China and its old Cold War foe Russia, according to The Guardian.
Billingslea is the current undersecretary for terrorism financing at the Treasury Department and is known as an advocate of state torture.
He was nominated to be under secretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights at the State Department last year before his confirmation process stalled when Democrats and human rights groups raised concern about his tenure as part of the George W Bush administration, when he oversaw the conditions under which detains were kept at Guantanamo Bay during the War on Terror.
“There has been ample evidence that Mr Billingslea encouraged the use of interrogation methods that amount to torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment while he served in the Bush administration,” Daphne Eviatar, director of security with Human Rights at Amnesty International USA, wrote back in September. “This makes a mockery of that important position.”
The administration is currently looking to replace Obama’s New Start deal with the fellow superpowers with one of his own, as his wont, and Russian president Vladimir Putin has proposed a summit to address the matter, most likely when the UN general assembly next convenes in September.
“No special envoy, especially one like Marshall Billingslea who has a record of dismantling or blocking effective nuclear arms control, can hope to accomplish very much toward the goal of a wholly new multilateral nuclear arms control agreement through a one-day heads of state summit,” Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, told The Guardian.
“But a decision by Trump and Putin to extend the New Start agreement would surely help prevent a new arms race and create more favorable conditions for more ambitious nuclear arms talks with Russia and China.”