The question deserves to be asked after the strong Chinese reaction to the recent AUKUS summit in San Diego (California). China has accused Britain, the United States and Australia of fueling a new arms race after the three powers reached an agreement to develop a new generation of nuclear-powered submarines.
China’s foreign ministry said the pact stemmed from a “typical Cold War mentality”, accusing Britain and the United States of violating the terms of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) by transferring weapons-grade enriched uranium to a non-nuclear-weapon power.
We remember that these submarines were preferred by Australia to the classic French-made submarines.
Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, spokesman Wang Wenbin said: “The latest joint statement released by the US, UK and Australia shows that the three countries have embarked on a misguided and dangerous to serve their own geopolitical interests, completely ignoring the concerns of the international community.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese presented details of the final stage of the AUKUS partnership in San Diego.
Under the deal to counter China’s growing military assertiveness in the Pacific, Australia will receive its first nuclear-powered submarines.
It will also allow the Royal Navy to replace its seven Astute submarines, which could double the size of its fleet of attack ships.
Ships will not be nuclear-armed, and the NPT allows the transfer of fissile material for non-military purposes, such as naval propulsion, without the need for the International Atomic Energy Agency, the monitoring body of the United Nations, exercises oversight.
However, in a series of tweets, China’s mission to the UN said the move clearly violated the “object and purpose” of the NPT.
“The nuclear submarine cooperation plan released today by AUKUS is a blatant act that poses serious nuclear proliferation risks, undermines the international non-proliferation system, fuels the arms race and harms peace and stability in the region,” the Chinese mission told the UN.
“The irony of AUKUS is that two nuclear-weapon states that claim to meet the highest nuclear non-proliferation standards are transferring tons of weapon-grade enriched uranium to a non-nuclear-weapon state. nuclear weapons, thus clearly violating the object and purpose of the NPT.
“Such a textbook case of double standards will undermine the authority and effectiveness of the international non-proliferation system.
“We urge the trio to honor their obligations as members of the NPT and respond to the will of the international community.
At a launch ceremony at a US naval base, Mr Sunak said the AUKUS agreement was intended to keep the oceans “free, open and prosperous” and to “preserve freedom, peace and security today. and for generations to come”.
The deal is expected to create thousands of jobs in UK shipyards, with UK submarines mainly built by BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness (Cumbria) and Rolls-Royce, with the US sharing sensitive technologies in the framework of the project.