Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, speaks at a press conference in Beijing, China, on Feb 23, 2023. (PHOTO / FOREIGN MINISTRY, CHINA)
BEIJING – China on Friday urged the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia to stop putting their selfish geopolitical agenda above nuclear non-proliferation obligations and stop coercing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) into endorsing their nuclear submarine cooperation.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin made the remarks at a regular press briefing when asked to comment on Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's remarks that the AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation is the advancement of NATO military infrastructure into Asia, which makes a serious bet on many years of confrontation in the region.
READ MORE: Kremlin: AUKUS submarine deal raises proliferation questions
This is typical Cold War mentality and a move that opens a Pandora's box, which will seriously impact regional and global peace and security.
Wang Wenbin, Spokesman, Foreign Ministry, China
Wang said the US, the UK and Australia are putting up an Anglo-Saxon clique and creating the so-called AUKUS trilateral security partnership to advance nuclear submarine cooperation and other cutting-edge military technology cooperation.
"This is typical Cold War mentality and a move that opens a Pandora's box, which will seriously impact regional and global peace and security," he said.
Firstly, it will seriously impact the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, said the spokesman. The AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation marks the first time for nuclear weapon states to transfer naval nuclear propulsion reactors and weapons-grade highly enriched uranium to a non-nuclear weapon state, he added.
There is nothing in the current IAEA safeguards system that can ensure effective safeguards. Therefore, such cooperation poses serious nuclear proliferation risks, seriously compromises the authority of the IAEA and deals a blow to the Agency's safeguards system, Wang said.
If the three countries are set on advancing the nuclear submarine cooperation, other countries will likely follow suit, eventually leading to the collapse of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, he said.
Secondly, it will seriously impact the ASEAN-centered regional cooperation architecture, Wang said, adding that the AUKUS cooperation is designed to serve the US geopolitical agenda with the means of military deterrence, according to Wang.
ALSO READ: Australia PM defends AUKUS submarine deal against critics
It runs counter to the ASEAN way of mutual respect, openness and inclusiveness, consensus through consultation, and accommodating the comfort levels of all sides, undercuts ASEAN countries' effort to establish a Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone and seriously undermines the ASEAN-centered regional cooperation architecture in East Asia, he said.
Thirdly, it will seriously impact peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific. AUKUS introduces group politics and Cold War confrontation into the Asia-Pacific, and is aimed to create a NATO-replica in the region, said Wang.
"If this attempt succeeds, it forebodes unprecedented threats and challenges to the decades-long stability and prosperity in the region," the spokesperson said.
The US, the UK and Australia should listen to the call of the international community and countries in the region, stop pursuing bloc politics and confrontation, stop putting their selfish geopolitical agenda above nuclear non-proliferation obligations and stop coercing the IAEA into endorsing their nuclear submarine cooperation, said the foreign ministry spokesman.