BEIJING, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- China on Wednesday expressed grave concern over the cooperation between the United States, the UK and Australia on nuclear submarines, stating that it deliberately escalates regional tensions, provokes an arms race, threatens regional peace and stability, and undermines international nuclear non-proliferation efforts.
Answering a press question at a daily news briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said it is widely believed by the international community that the cooperation between the three countries poses a serious risk of nuclear proliferation, in violation of the spirit of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
He said that the U.S. and the UK are likely to export to Australia highly enriched uranium with a purity of 90 percent 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 cannot verify whether Australia will use the highly enriched uranium in the power reactors of nuclear submarines for nuclear weapons," said the spokesperson, adding that China believes that these concerns of the international community are completely justified and reasonable.
"As a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the Treaty on the NPT and a party to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty, known as the Treaty of Rarotonga, Australia is now introducing nuclear submarine technology of strategic and military value. The international community, including Australia's neighboring countries, has reason to question Australia's sincerity in honoring its nuclear non-proliferation commitments," said Zhao.
He said that, faced with the dual challenge of combating COVID-19 and revitalizing the economy, people in the Asia-Pacific region need growth and employment, not submarines and ammunition.
Zhao stressed that the nuclear submarine cooperation between the U.S., the UK and Australia proves once again that the U.S. and the UK pursue double standards and use nuclear cooperation as a tool of geopolitical game.
China urges the three countries to heed the call of the international community, discard the outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow geopolitical perspective, revoke the wrong decision, faithfully fulfill international nuclear non-proliferation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, said the spokesperson. Enditem