US, UK, Australia pact textbook case of nuclear proliferation: China

US, UK, Australia pact textbook case of nuclear proliferation: China

Beijing’s comments on trilateral nuclear-armed submarine pact come ahead of possible signing of the deal next week

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ISTANBUL (AA) - China has said the AUKUS nuclear pact between the US, the UK and Australia is a “textbook case of nuclear proliferation,” calling on the three partners to “act in the interest of regional peace and stability.”

“We urge the US, the UK and Australia to abandon their cold war mentality and zero-sum game, fulfill their international obligations in good faith and act in the interest of regional peace and stability,” said Chinese Ambassador Li Song to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

He was addressing IAEA meeting on transfer of the nuclear materials under AUKUS and its safeguards in all aspects under the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) on Thursday in Vienna, a statement released by the Chinese mission to the IAEA said.

Li said the AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation “constitutes serious nuclear proliferation risks, brings negative impact to the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, provokes arms race and impairs peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.”

“It has been widely questioned and opposed by the countries in the region and the international community,” he said.

Beijing’s comments at Vienna office of the IAEA comes as Washington, London and Canberra are expected to sign the trilateral nuclear-armed submarine pact next week.

“The essence of the AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation is the transfer of tons of weapon-grade highly enriched uranium by the US and the UK, which are nuclear-weapon states and also the depository states of the NPT, to Australia, their military ally and a non-nuclear-weapon state, out of geopolitical and strategic security considerations,” the Chinese ambassador to the IAEA said.

“Such an act is a textbook case of nuclear proliferation, runs against the object and purpose of the NPT and poses grave challenges to the existing IAEA safeguards system and the NPT regime, having numerous negative implications for the years to come,” Li said.

- Brushing aside allegations

The Chinese ambassador brushed aside the claims of the AUKUS partners that the “impact of the AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation on regional security, as well as its multiple effects relating to military capabilities, are beyond the IAEA mandate, therefore it should not be discussed within the Agency.”

“This is groundless,” Li said about the argument of the three partner nations.

“It has to be reviewed from the perspective of its negative impact on the international and regional security and a larger background of the effectiveness of the NPT regime,” he said.

In the context of IAEA safeguard’s mandates, Li said: “the transfer of large amount of weapon-grade HEU in the AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation is unprecedented.”

“Whether it is at all possible and how to conduct safeguards on such activities will not only put the integrity and effectiveness of the NPT at stake, but will also touch upon the interest of all member states of the IAEA,” he said.

“This is simply not an issue that can be settled through some regular safeguard arrangements between IAEA and the Member States or by way of existing practices.

“There are ample reasons to involve all the member states in seeking an appropriate solution through intergovernmental discussions,” the Chinese ambassador said.

Urging the AUKUS partners to “respond to the concerns of the international community,” China said: “We call upon the Member States of the IAEA to actively participate in the intergovernmental discussion process and contribute their wisdom and efforts to the maintenance of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime.”

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