Russia Says IAEA Should Monitor Process of US Handing Nuke Tech Over to Australia
10:44 GMT 17.09.2021 (Updated: 12:03 GMT 17.09.2021)
Late on Wednesday, Australia, the UK, and the US announced the formation of the new defence and security partnership AUKUS to "protect and defend" the three nations' "shared interests in the Indo-Pacific".
Russia's Permanent Representative to International Organisations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov has stated that the newly created AUKUS alliance of the US, the UK, and Australia puts in question non-proliferation efforts worldwide.
"At the same time, the issue of violation of nuclear non-proliferation is being raised. Why? Because the United States and Great Britain took 17 months to decide on how to help Australia [...] master the technology of creating nuclear-powered submarines. From the point of view of non-proliferation, this is a very sensitive issue, because the submarines operate on highly enriched uranium, which, in principle, can be used to create nuclear weapons", Ulyanov told the Rossiya 24 broadcaster.
The Russian diplomat also said that "it is clear that from a political point of view", the AUKUS alliance "appears to be directed against China" and that the pact's activities should be closely monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
16 September, 10:30 GMT
According to him, Russia is calling on the IAEA's Board of Governors to keep the situation under control after Australia's acquisition of nuclear technologies within the new AUKUS alliance.
"This decision was quite unexpected and strange. Trying to assess the situation from a strategic point of view, I cannot understand why Australia needs to acquire such sensitive technologies now. There is no rational explanation. This can create a global-scale problem for the nuclear non-proliferation regime ... I think we will focus on ensuring that not only the IAEA Secretariat with its inspection mechanism but also the Board of Governors, as the governing body, keep the whole situation under control", Ulyanov stressed.
AUCUS Alliance Announced
The creation of AUKUS was announced late Wednesday by US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson.
The first initiative under the AUKUS alliance will be the creation of nuclear-powered submarine technology for the Royal Australian Navy, which prompted the Australian government to abandon a $90-billion agreement reached with the French company Naval Group for the construction of diesel-electric submarines.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian reacted angrily to the decision, which he slammed as "really a stab in the back". He added that "we had established a relationship of trust with Australia, [and] this trust has been betrayed".
The Chinese Embassy in Washington, in response to the formation of the AUKUS partnership, urged the countries to get rid of their "Cold War mentality" and to refrain from creating alliances against others.
"This proves once again that these countries are using nuclear exports as a tool for geopolitical games", the ministry said, adding that any regional mechanism "should not harm [the] interests of third countries".