China once again “expressed grave concern” over the AUKUS pact, the new alliance between the US, the UK and Australia, which will arm the oceanic country with nuclear submarines. During a press conference on September 22, Zhao Lijian, the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of the Asian giant, said that the new international plan “undermines international nuclear non-proliferation efforts” as well as “deliberately intensifying regional tension, provoking an arms race and threatening regional peace and stability.”
According to the Chinese spokesman, the cooperation between the three countries confirms that they “pursue double standards and use nuclear cooperation as a geopolitical game tool.” Zhao Lijian pointed out that AUKUS also gives reasons to question the faithful fulfillment of Canberra’s obligations regarding non-proliferation under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a State not possessing such weapons.
Beijing fears that as a result of trilateral cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, “the US and the UK are likely to export highly enriched uranium to Australia at a purity of 90% or more, which is nuclear material. suitable for weapons “. According to the spokesperson, this poses “serious nuclear proliferation and nuclear safety risks”Since the current safeguard mechanism, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), cannot verify whether the oceanic country will use uranium in the power reactors of nuclear submarines to make nuclear weapons.
In this context, Zhao Lijian called on Washington, London and Canberra to “renounce the outdated zero-sum mentality of the Cold War and the narrow geopolitical perspective. […], already faithfully comply with international nuclear non-proliferation obligations“.
- On September 15, the creation of a trilateral alliance between the US, the UK and Australia was announced, which resulted in Canberra’s termination of a program to supply conventional French submarines.
- France’s canceled submarine manning program involved building a fleet of 12 conventional submersibles, within the framework of a multi-million dollar contract between the European country and Australia, estimated at about $ 66 billion.
- For its part, Paris took a series of measures in response to the pact. In particular, it called for consultations with its ambassadors in the US and Australia, as well as strongly criticizing the agreement, calling it a “stab in the back.”
- Canberra expects to receive up to eight nuclear-powered submersibles, while insisting on its commitment to nuclear non-proliferation, as it does not plan to possess such weapons.