AUKUS submarine collaboration risks nuclear proliferation: report

(Xinhua) 10:23, July 22, 2022

BEIJING, July 21 (Xinhua) -- A new research report released by Chinese academic entities says the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine collaboration has set a dangerous precedent for the illegal transfer of weapons-grade nuclear materials and thus constitutes a blatant act of nuclear proliferation.

The United States and Britain said in last September that they would support Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines under a newly formed trilateral security pact known as AUKUS.

The report, titled "A Dangerous Conspiracy: The Nuclear Proliferation Risk of the Nuclear-powered Submarines Collaboration in the Context of AUKUS", was released Wednesday by the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association and the China Institute of Nuclear Industry Strategy. It is the first special report on AUKUS submarine collaboration published by Chinese academic entities.

The report says the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine collaboration runs counter to the spirit of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty and also undermines ASEAN countries' efforts to establish the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone.

In addition, it ferments potential risks and hazards in multiple aspects, such as nuclear security and arms race in nuclear submarines, with a profound negative impact on global strategic balance and stability, says the report.

According to the report, though the AUKUS countries have been coy about the details of their nuclear-powered submarine collaboration, international arms-control experts have estimated that Australia's eight planned nuclear submarines will need a total of 1.6 to 2 tonnes of weapons-grade HEU, which would be sufficient to build as many as 64 to 80 nuclear weapons.

"The United States and Britain are directly giving Australia tonnes of weapon-grade nuclear materials. This is without a doubt an act of nuclear proliferation," said Zhang Yan, president of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.

Australia, a non-nuclear-weapon state under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, openly accepted such a large quantity of weapons-grade nuclear materials. This is nothing short of "getting one foot across the nuclear threshold," Zhang added.

After reviewing nearly 100 declassified nuclear files and related materials, the report finds that post-WWII Australian administrations were keen to develop nuclear weapons. In recent years, there have again been people in Australia arguing the case for nuclear possession, and the possibility of Australia seeking the development of nuclear weapons in the future may not be ruled out, it says.

The report urges the United States, Britain and Australia to immediately revoke their wrong decisions, stop their dangerous acts, and faithfully fulfill their international obligations in non-proliferation.

It also calls on the international community to take actions and urge the three countries to revoke their wrong decisions through multilateral platforms so as to jointly safeguard the integrity, authority and effectiveness of the global nuclear nonproliferation regime. 

(Web editor: Wu Chaolan, Liang Jun)


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