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Wang Yi : AUKUS nuclear sub deal poses 5 dangers to region

BEIJING – Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday held a phone conversation with the Malaysian and Bruneian foreign ministers.

During the talks, the foreign ministers exchanged views on the new security partnership between Australia, Britain and the United States, known as AUKUS, as well as the countries' plan to conduct cooperation on nuclear submarines, over which the officials expressed grave concern.

Wang said the AUKUS move is likely to bring about five dangers to the region.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out five dangers that the AUKUS deal will pose to the region, including sabotaging the building of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Southeast Asia

Firstly, it will cause risks of nuclear proliferation.

According to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, non-nuclear-weapon states can only use nuclear energy in a peaceful manner under supervision and safeguards.

Nuclear submarines, however, are used for military purposes and are fueled by highly enriched uranium, which can be used directly to build nuclear weapons, while the International Atomic Energy Agency is unable to conduct effective and timely supervision of nuclear submarines.

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While the United States has unilaterally imposed sanctions on countries developing enriched uranium technology, it gave Australia a green light, which will inevitably give rise to more risks of proliferation of nuclear technology and materials, impacting the global non-proliferation regime.

Secondly, it will induce a new round of arms race.

Nuclear submarines are strategic security forces, capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

Australia's move will break the strategic balance in the region, mocks the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty that Australia has signed, and constitutes a real threat to countries in the region.

It could not be ruled out that other countries would follow the move to wage a new round of arms race, even crossing the nuclear threshold.

Thirdly, it will undermine regional prosperity and stability.

With the joint efforts made by China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for many years, the region has become the most dynamic and fastest developing one in the world. This situation is hard won and should be cherished.

However, AUKUS will surely to create tensions, casting a shadow on the region's peace, stability, and development.

READ MORE: M'sia PM: AUKUS raises risk of tensions, regional arms race

Fourthly, it will sabotage the building of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Southeast Asia.

The Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone reflects the common will of the people in Southeast Asian countries, which should be understood and respected by other countries. 

Among the five nuclear weapon countries, China was the first to have announced its readiness to join the treaty and sign a protocol to this end.

The United States and Britain chose not to participate in the treaty. Instead, they have transferred military nuclear technology to the region under various pretexts and provided highly enriched uranium materials, running counter to the efforts made by ASEAN countries to build a nuclear-weapon-free zone.

Fifthly, it will revive the Cold War mentality.

AUKUS, in line with the Quad, complies with and serves the US-led Indo-Pacific strategy, seeking to overturn the current status quo and start all over again, with an eye to provoking rivalry among blocs in the region and ushering in geopolitical zero-sum games.

It goes against the trend of the times and is a revival of the Cold War mentality, which should arouse vigilance and opposition from countries in the region and the international community.