BEIJING, June 6 (Xinhua) -- China called on the United States, Britain and Australia to heed the concerns of the international community and stop acts of nuclear proliferation such as their nuclear submarine cooperation, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said here Tuesday.
According to reports, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a speech on Monday that "the small-scale alliance relevant to nuclear-powered submarines among the United States, Britain and Australia is becoming a concern for ASEAN and countries in the region because ASEAN is a nuclear weapon-free zone, and we oppose nuclear weapon proliferation." He said the military alliance is the "starting point of a very dangerous arms race" and "if this situation continues, the world will face a bigger danger."
Wang told a daily news briefing that Prime Minister Hun Sen's remarks speak to the concerns widely shared by regional countries, including the ASEAN nations.
The AUKUS security partnership and related nuclear submarine cooperation creates nuclear proliferation risks, threatens the international nuclear non-proliferation system, undermines the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty, and undercuts ASEAN countries' efforts to establish a Southeast Asia nuclear weapon-free zone, Wang said.
According to estimates by international arms control experts, the weapons-grade nuclear materials the United States and Britain plan to transfer to Australia would be sufficient to build as many as 64 to 80 nuclear weapons, Wang said.
He added that if the three countries are set on advancing their nuclear submarine cooperation, it is bound to deal an irreversible heavy blow to the integrity, efficacy and authority of the international nuclear non-proliferation system and trigger similar behavior in other non-nuclear-weapon states, thus turning the region into an arena of arms race.
"Such practice of seeking one's own security at the expense of other countries' security and plunging other countries into 'security anxiety' is extremely irresponsible and dangerous," he said.
Wang said as ASEAN's comprehensive strategic partner and friendly neighbor, China firmly supports ASEAN nations' efforts to establish the Southeast Asia nuclear weapon-free zone.
He added that China is the first nuclear-weapon state to openly support the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone and have expressed readiness to sign the Protocol to the Treaty.
"We once again call on the United States, Britain and Australia to heed the concerns of the international community, stop acts of nuclear proliferation such as their nuclear submarine cooperation, stop undermining the international nuclear non-proliferation system by applying double standards, and stop brewing storms over the Pacific Ocean," he said.