Chinese envoy: International community seriously concerned about AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation

China Military Online
Li Wei
2022-09-16 19:01:31

VIENNA, Sept. 16 -- A meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors on September 15 discussed the AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation as a standalone, formal agenda item. At the meeting, the member states expressed grave concerns over "seven issues" regarding trilateral cooperation proposed by China.

Wang Qun, China’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Vienna, said the nuclear submarine cooperation among the US, the UK and Australia is a downright practice of nuclear proliferation as it involves the illegal transfer of nuclear materials. However, the three countries have been beating around the bush about the proliferation nature of their deal and trying to mislead the international community by confusing right and wrong. To refute their fallacies, China listed “seven issues” regarding the trilateral nuclear deal, which were echoed and endorsed by the IAEA members.

First, the three countries have been trying to cover up the fact that their nuclear submarine cooperation involves the illegal transfer of nuclear weapon materials with the excuse of “naval reactor”, which, however, is essentially a practice of nuclear proliferation.

Second, the three countries are trying to confuse the matters of military activities within a country’s sovereignty and nuclear proliferation. Their nuclear submarine cooperation is not as simple as a sovereign state independently developing nuclear materials used in military submarines. It is the first time that nuclear weapon states blatantly, directly transfer tons of nuclear weapon materials to a non-nuclear weapon state. These are two very different things.

Third, the three countries’ ploy to mislead the public with the rhetoric that “nuclear materials are stocked in the reactor and cannot be directly used to make nuclear weapons” won’t work. The linchpin of the problem with the cooperation lies in nuclear proliferation, not how to dispose of the nuclear materials. Given its proliferation nature, the trilateral deal won’t reduce the risk against nuclear security and safeguards, as well as the danger of nuclear proliferation.

Fourth, the three countries, especially Australia, violated the obligation of the declaration provided in IAEA’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and relevant protocols. In the past year since it officially announced the trilateral deal, Australia has not once made any substantive report to the IAEA, which is a violation of its safeguards obligation.

Fifth, the three countries have flagrantly, without authorization, engaged with IAEA Secretariat to directly determine relevant safeguards. Their nuclear submarine cooperation has set a bad example of nuclear proliferation, which is beyond the current scope of safeguards. Therefore, a solution to it must be discussed and determined by all IAEA members, each having a say in it.

Sixth, the three countries have harmed IAEA’s function and authority in preventing nuclear proliferation and hijacked the Secretariat to engage in activities prohibited by the Statute of IAEA. They attempted to coerce the Secretariat into exempting their nuclear submarine cooperation from the safeguards. Then, with their majority seats, they can force the Board of Governors to adopt their deal and consequently legitimize the proliferating practice. China supports IAEA in strictly implementing Article 2 of the Statute, namely relevant budget shall not be used for any activity that supports any military purpose.

Seventh, the three countries, on the grounds that no cooperation scheme has been finalized yet, refuse to report to IAEA the substantive progress on their cooperation, so the Director General and Secretariat are unable to make a substantive report to the Board of Governors on the deal or perform the reporting obligation provided in the Statute.

These are the “seven issues” about the AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation, said Wang Qun, noting that if we just allow them to make a fake report to IAEA about their nuclear submarine cooperation and hijack the Secretariat to become the Trojan Horse helping them whitewash their proliferating practice and exempt their cooperation from the safeguards, that will seriously damage the common interests of the international community, including the Secretariat and all IAEA members.


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