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IAEA puts AUKUS on its agenda to address global concerns

This file photograph taken 14 Nov, 2007 captures a view of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna. (JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

VIENNA – The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Wednesday set up a new agenda item on AUKUS to address the grave concerns of the international community.

Wang Qun, Chinese envoy to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna, said on Wednesday that at China's suggestion the Board decided "by consensus and on short notice" on a new agenda item on the "Transfer of nuclear materials in the context of AUKUS and its safeguards in all aspects under the NPT (Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons)."

Wang Qun, Chinese envoy to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna, said on Wednesday that at China's suggestion the Board decided "by consensus and on short notice" on a new agenda item on the "Transfer of nuclear materials in the context of AUKUS and its safeguards in all aspects under the NPT (Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons)"

In mid-September, the United States, Britain and Australia announced the establishment of AUKUS, under which the United States and Britain will assist Australia in its acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines.

The move fully reflects the serious concerns of the Board Members on the trilateral deal, shows that the matter goes beyond the existing mandate of the IAEA's secretariat, said Wang.

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China believes this represents a step in the right direction towards a proper resolution of the issue, he said, noting that the IAEA should focus on prevention as mandated by its safeguards arrangements, instead of waiting until proliferation occurs.

It is the responsibility and obligation of the member states of the agency to conduct in-depth discussions on the above issues through an intergovernmental process, Wang added.

AUKUS not only bears on the integrity, effectiveness and authority of the global non-proliferation regime with the NPT as its cornerstone, but also affects the post-war international security order and global strategic stability, with enormous political, legal, technical implications, Wang said.

China will come up with many questions for serious discussion within the Board and offer suggestions as to how the subsequent discussion should be undertaken, he said.

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"China hopes that the international community will channel their efforts towards a solution acceptable to all, work together to defend the purposes of the NPT, safeguard the global non-proliferation regime, and uphold global strategic stability, international peace and security," he added.

The IAEA Board of Governors meeting is scheduled to wind up on Friday.