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Chinese FM spokesperson: Nuclear Submarine Cooperation Between US, UK and Australia Violates the Spirit of Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

2021-09-23

At a regular press conference of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China on 22 September, spokesperson Zhao Lijian answered a question about the nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia.

Journalist: On September 15, the US, the UK and Australia announced the establishment of a trilateral security partnership, under which the UK and the US will support Australia to build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. Many countries in the region have expressed grave concern over this, stressing the importance of Australia honoring its nuclear non-proliferation commitments. They are concerned that this move by Australia will intensify the nuclear arms race in the Indo-Pacific region. What is China's comment on that?

Zhao Lijian: China expresses grave concern over the nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia, which deliberately escalates regional tension, provokes an arms race, threatens regional peace and stability, and undermines international nuclear non-proliferation efforts. Recently, many countries in the region have expressed concern over the possible negative consequences of the cooperation of the US, the UK and Australia.

It is widely believed by the international community that their cooperation poses a serious risk of nuclear proliferation and violates the spirit of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The US and the UK are likely to export to Australia highly enriched uranium with purity of 90% or more, which is weapon-grade nuclear material. As a non-nuclear-weapon state, Australia's acquisition of highly enriched uranium itself poses severe nuclear proliferation and nuclear security risks. However, the current safeguards mechanism of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) cannot verify whether Australia will use the highly enriched uranium in the power reactors of nuclear submarines for nuclear weapons. China believes that these concerns of the international community are completely justified and reasonable.

The nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia, which poses a serious risk of nuclear proliferation, proves once again that the US and the UK pursue double standards and use nuclear cooperation as a tool of geopolitical game. It also gives the international community every reason to question Australia's sincerity in complying with its nuclear non-proliferation obligations as a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the NPT. China urges the three countries to heed the call of the international community, discard the outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow geopolitical perspective, revoke the wrong decision, faithfully fulfill international nuclear non-proliferation obligations and do more to contribute to regional peace and stability.

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