The United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) finalized a new report on the US-UK-Australia AUKUS alliance, drawing sharp criticism from China. The report looked into Australia’s nuclear submarine acquisition program which leverages American and British technology through the AUKUS alliance and stated that the IAEA was “satisfied with the level of engagement” of the three AUKUS partners with the IAEA. It is known that the IAEA found the risk to non-proliferation stemming from the agreement to be low although the full report remains secret and was only released to member states.
The IAEA’s Director General Rafael Grossi was also generally positive about AUKUS and was quoted as saying:
“I welcome the AUKUS parties’ engagement with the Agency to date and expect this to continue in order that they deliver on their stated commitment to ensuring that the highest non-proliferation and safeguards standards are met.”
However, the new IAEA analysis was strongly protested by China which had long been an opponent of the AUKUS deal which is clearly largely aimed against the PRC. Chinese officials have also repeatedly called on the IAEA to intervene against the deal. Hence, it is unsurprising that official Chinese statements have referred to the new report as “lopsided” ,“absurd” and “lacking a legal basis” and have questioned the integrity of the IAEA.
According to China’s UN representative Wang Qun:
“The IAEA chief cannot override the agency’s member states and undertake activities without due mandates from the member states; cannot engage in nuclear proliferation or activities that advance military purposes; cannot be reduced to a political tool of the AUKUS countries and be used to make misleading conclusions; and cannot ignore the subordinate status of the IAEA comprehensive safeguards agreements vis-a-vis the NPT. […] The IAEA chief cannot be reduced to a political tool of the AUKUS countries and be used to make misleading conclusions.”
Nevertheless, with the report being published, it would seem that Chinese efforts to push the IAEA towards taking a stance against AUKUS have failed.