China calls upon the international community to prevent Australia from violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which could occur if the country receives technology for developing nuclear submarines under the new AUKUS partnership, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said on Thursday.
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“Cooperation between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia poses a serious threat of nuclear proliferation and violates the spirit of the NPT,” Wu told a briefing.
He stressed that under AUKUS, the United States and the United Kingdom will export technology and materials, including highly enriched uranium, which can be used for nuclear weapons, to Australia. IAEA will not be able to verify how Australia uses them.
“This is a sheer act of nuclear proliferation,” Wu said.
The spokesman noted that the US and the UK behaved irresponsibly and with double standards, adding that such a disregard for international law may encourage other non-nuclear states to follow their example.
Australia, as a party to the NPT and the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty, would seriously violate its international obligations by importing strategically important technologies for creating nuclear submarines and weapons-grade uranium, the spokesperson said.
“China calls upon the international community to act together and take effective measures to stop such dangerous actions,” Wu said.
In addition, he called on Australia, the US and the UK to abandon their Cold War mentality, to step away from cooperation on nuclear submarines and to make efforts more conducive to peace and stability in the region.
On September 15, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared the formation of the new AUKUS defense and security partnership in a joint statement.
The first initiative under the AUKUS alliance will be the creation of nuclear technology for the Royal Australian Navy. The move prompted outrage from France, whose Naval Group lost a $66-billion contract for the construction of diesel-electric submarines for Australia.
The Chinese embassy in Washington, in response to the formation of the defensive partnership, urged countries to refrain from creating alliances against others.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that if Australia acquires nuclear-powered submarines within the framework of the new AUKUS defense alliance, it may require oversight by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Speaking at a press conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Lavrov noted that nuclear submarines use weapons-grade uranium. “So, we will probably have to request IAEA oversight,” Lavrov said, citing proliferation concerns.