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Chinese FM Spokesperson: The Nuclear Submarine Cooperation Between the US, the UK and Australia Is Extremely Irresponsible

2021-11-23 12:04

At a regular press conference of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China on 22 November, spokesperson Zhao Lijian answered a question about the AUKUS.

Journalist: The White House released on its website information on November 19 showing that the US President has approved the memorandum on the proposed Agreement between the Government of the United States of America, the Government of Australia, and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for the Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information. The President also stated that the Agreement will make substantial and material contributions to the mutual defense and security and enhance trilateral security partnership among the three Parties known as "AUKUS". Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: China has expressed grave concern over the nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia, which deliberately escalates regional tensions, stimulates arms race, threatens regional peace and stability, and undermines international nuclear non-proliferation efforts. Many countries have expressed serious concerns over the possible negative consequences of the cooperation. 

Under the current safeguards mechanism, the IAEA is unable to effectively monitor the nuclear power reactors and weapons-grade nuclear materials that the US and the UK are planning to provide to Australia, so as to ensure that relevant nuclear materials and technologies will not be used to develop nuclear weapons. Therefore, this move by the US, the UK and Australia will pose a huge risk of nuclear proliferation, clearly violate the object and purpose of the NPT and seriously impact the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.

It is extremely irresponsible for the three countries to forge the so-called agreement on the exchange of naval nuclear propulsion information, advance nuclear submarine cooperation in disregard of international rules and opposition of parties. What information will the three countries share? Is it consistent with the respective international obligations of the three countries? Will it lead to nuclear proliferation? How can the three countries ensure that relevant nuclear materials and nuclear technology will not be used to develop nuclear weapons? How to prevent its wrongdoings from provoking others to follow suit? The three countries have the obligation to make clear explanations to the international community on these issues.

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