China on Tuesday urged the US, UK and Australia to shelve nuclear submarine cooperation, calling the plan an “act of nuclear proliferation”.
In a weekly briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin urged the troika to “take into account the concerns of the international community and stop nuclear proliferation acts such as nuclear submarine cooperation.”
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Referring to reports by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday that “the small-scale alliance between the US, UK and Australia on nuclear powered submarines has become a concern for ASEAN and the countries of the region,” Wang said the Cambodian leader’s words were “including ASEAN countries.” It addresses concerns widely shared by the countries of the region.”
“The AUKUS security partnership and related nuclear submarine cooperation create nuclear proliferation risks, threaten the international nuclear nonproliferation system, undermine the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Agreement, and undermine the efforts of ASEAN countries to establish a Southeast Asian nuclear weapons-free zone,” he continued.
Citing “estimates” by anonymous international arms control experts, Wang said the weapons-grade nuclear materials the US and Britain plan to hand over to Australia would be sufficient to build between 64 and 80 nuclear weapons.
Wang said Beijing “absolutely” supports ASEAN countries’ efforts to establish a nuclear weapons-free zone in Southeast Asia.
“We call once again on the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia to heed the concerns of the international community, to cease non-proliferation actions such as nuclear submarine collaborations, to stop and end the double standard undermining the international nonproliferation system.” Storms are growing over the Pacific Ocean,” he added.
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