Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Remarks
2021/10/22

Beijing Daily: According to reports, Director General Rafael Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said during a visit to the US that "we are going to have an engagement, formal engagement, soon in a tripartite way or otherwise" to formulate specific agreements to make sure that Australia's nuclear submarines are under safeguards. Grossi said it "cannot be excluded" that other countries would use the AUKUS precedent to pursue their own nuclear submarine plans. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: As the Chinese side has stressed many times, the nuclear submarine cooperation of the US, the UK and Australia poses serious nuclear proliferation risks and clearly violates the purposes and objectives of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). China is gravely concerned and firmly opposed to this. This cooperation would be the first time for a nuclear-weapon state to transfer nuclear submarines to a non-nuclear weapon state. It means that the US and the UK will transfer to Australia highly enriched uranium (HEU) with purity of 90% or more while the existing IAEA safeguards mechanism cannot effectively verify whether the HEU will be used for nuclear weapons. This move by the three countries runs counter to the purposes and objectives of the NPT. If left unchecked, it may even lead to the collapse of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. Many countries have expressed their concern and dissatisfaction over this.

It must be pointed out that the issue of safeguards for nuclear submarine power reactors is not a private matter of the three countries, nor should it be decided by the three countries and the IAEA Secretariat alone. Rather, it is up to all the IAEA members to discuss and resolve the political, legal and technical issues involved. Before consensus is reached, the three countries should not carry out nuclear submarine cooperation, and the IAEA Secretariat should not reach so-called non-proliferation arrangements with the three countries, so as not to endorse proliferation.

Over the years, the US, the UK and Australia have presented themselves as leaders and defenders of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, but the nuclear submarine cooperation among them has fully exposed their hypocrisy and "double standards" on nuclear non-proliferation. China urges the three countries to rescind the erroneous decision, faithfully fulfill international nuclear non-proliferation obligations, do more to contribute to regional peace and stability, and avoid proliferation as it may undermine regional and world peace and stability.

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