Wang Qun, Chinese envoy to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna, receives interview after a meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in Vienna, Austria, April 6, 2021. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
VIENNA - China's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Vienna Wang Qun said on Monday that the issue of the legitimacy of the nuclear weapon material transfer involved in AUKUS must not be dodged.
Wang made the remarks after a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors decided by consensus to set up a formal agenda item on "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) at China's proposal.
China's Permanent Representative to the UN in Vienna Wang Qun said the inclusion of the AUKUS issue into the IAEA board meeting's agenda, the second time since its meeting in November 2021, reflects the serious concerns of board members and the international community over the trilateral deal
In September last year, 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 Chinese envoy said the inclusion of the AUKUS issue into the IAEA board meeting's agenda, the second time since its meeting in November 2021, reflects the serious concerns of board members and the international community over the trilateral deal.
The move also shows that the matter has gone beyond the existing mandate of the IAEA's secretariat and must be addressed through an intergovernmental process, he added.
Wang noted the core issue is whether AUKUS involves the illegal transfer of nuclear weapon materials.
The cooperation between Australia, a non-nuclear-weapon state, and the United States and Britain, both nuclear-weapon states, must be reviewed under the framework of the NPT to decide whether such collaboration violates the purpose of the NPT, Wang said, adding that the question must be clarified and cannot be dodged.
"If the AUKUS does involve the illegal transfer of nuclear weapon materials, the three countries must completely abolish relevant cooperation and put an immediate end to the acts that openly and directly violate the NPT," he said. "Otherwise, the IAEA member states have the right and responsibility to continue the intergovernmental discussion process to resolve the issue so as to safeguard the authority and effectiveness of the NPT as well as the integrity of the IAEA safeguards system."
Wang expressed hope that the IAEA board members will focus on core issues of AUKUS at the meeting and seek solutions to safeguard the NPT and the international non-proliferation regime.
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