Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Remarks
2021/09/28

China News Service: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted on September 25 that nuclear submarines use weapons-grade uranium. He added that if Australia acquires nuclear-powered submarines within the framework of the new AUKUS defense alliance, Russia will probably have to request IAEA oversight. What's your comment on that?

Hua Chunying: My colleague has made clear China's position on this issue before. We believe that the cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia on nuclear submarines poses a serious risk of nuclear proliferation and violates the spirit of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The concerns expressed by the Russian side are completely legitimate and reasonable.

The export of nuclear submarines to Australia, a non-nuclear weapon state, would involve the transfer of sensitive nuclear materials such as weapons-grade highly enriched uranium and related technology and equipment. There are gaps in the IAEA's safeguards system, which cannot effectively prevent Australia from using relevant nuclear materials to manufacture nuclear weapons. China is firmly opposed to the US, the UK and Australia's malicious exploitation of loopholes in the NPT and the IAEA safeguards mechanism, and will firmly safeguard the authority and effectiveness of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.

At the same time, China would like to remind all parties of the serious harm of double standards on the non-proliferation issue adopted by the US, UK and Australia. The US and UK put geopolitical interests above international nuclear non-proliferation rules and help Australia become the first non-nuclear weapon state to introduce nuclear submarines, which will encourage other non-nuclear weapon states to do the same, and bring far-reaching negative impact to the resolving of non-proliferation hotspots in the region. Moreover, Australia's introduction of nuclear submarines will undercut the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty and ASEAN countries' efforts to build a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (NWFZ) in Southeast Asia, and severely sabotage regional peace and stability.

China again urges the three countries to heed the call from the international community, abandon outdated Cold War mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical concepts, revoke the wrong decision, faithfully fulfill international non-proliferation obligations and do more that benefits regional peace and stability.

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