China is arguing that mankind needs to keep developing "peaceful" nuclear weapons in case a giant asteroid is discovered careering through space on a collision course with the earth.
China emphasized the asteroid idea but said that nuclear weapons might also come in handy for other projects.
Some weapons scientists in the United States have argued that rocket interceptors should be made ready to nudge doomsday rocks off course with a nuclear blast, but they have generally been ignored, with a consensus favoring better searches of the heavens to gauge the potential threat.
"China does not appear to be in the mood to conclude any kind of [test ban] agreement with the United States until things unfold further," said one Western diplomat. Until then, he said, there is likely to be more talk of the need for nuclear weapons to control asteroids.