Canberra’s plan to buy up to five nuclear-powered submarines from the US has led to a harsh rebuke from Beijing, which accused Washington and London of neglecting their obligations as nuclear powers and members of the NPT.
“The Nuclear Submarine Cooperation Plan … is a flagrant act that poses serious nuclear proliferation risks, undermines the international non-proliferation system, fuels arms races, and harms peace and stability in the region,” China’s Mission to the United Nations said in a series of tweets Tuesday morning.
US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced plans on Monday at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego for a new class of submarines, SSN-AUKUS, to be built in the UK and Australia using US technology and support sometime in the late 2030s or early 2040s.
However, in order to have the new capability as soon as possible, Australia will first purchase at least three Virginia-class submarines from the US.
Since the formation of the AUKUS alliance in 2021, Beijing has repeatedly criticized the trio for pushing the boundaries of nuclear proliferation. The US-built submarines are fueled with weapons-grade highly enriched uranium, but the Allies are pushing for a loophole that exempts naval reactors from NPT protections.
“The irony of AUKUS is that two nuclear-weapon states that claim to maintain the highest nuclear non-proliferation standard are transferring tons of enriched uranium for weapons to a non-nuclear-weapon state, clearly violating the purpose and purpose of the NPT. ” China’s diplomatic mission added on Tuesday, calling the planned transfer of nuclear technology and materials a “textbook example of double standards” and urged the trio on “fulfill their obligations as members of the NPT.”
You can share this story on social media: