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No grounds to speak about Australia becoming nuclear power — Russian envoy

However, Mikhail Ulyanov noted that the events were not ordinary, at least with regard to the nuclear non-proliferation regime

MOSCOW, September 17. /TASS/. Russian Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov believes that today there are no grounds to expect Australia to become a new nuclear power. He was commenting on the situation around the creation of the AUKUS partnership.

"I think that time has not come yet for such estimations [about Australia turning into a nuclear power], there are no sufficient grounds for that," he said in an interview with the Rossiya 24 TV channel.

"But the events are not ordinary, at least with regard to the nuclear non-proliferation regime," he noted.

Mikhail Ulyanov added that Australia’s decision to build nuclear-powered submarines sparked concern and sets a bad example for North Korea and Iran.

"Anyway, it is alarming and makes you keep a close eye on that. <…> The fact is that a bad example has been set. Australia is a non-nuclear power. Yes, it has large uranium reserves, there are several nuclear reactors. <…> The fact is that Iran and the DPRK stated <...> that they were interested in a nuclear submarine fleet in the long run. Now a kind of example that supports these aspirations has been set for them. That is why other countries that will be willing to possess such sensitive technologies may appear," he said.

Ulyanov added that British counterparts had noted commenting on the situation "in their own manner" that Australia had an excellent track record in nuclear nonproliferation, unlike North Korea and Iran. "But this is an unimpressive argument," he stressed.

On September 16, Australia, the UK and the US announced the creation of a new security partnership - AUKUS. Under the agreement, Australia, in particular, plans to build at least eight nuclear submarines with the help of British and American technologies. The first submarines will enter operational service in 2036. Australia also plans to reequip its armed forces with American cruise missiles. To do this, Canberra broke a defence contract with France, which was the biggest in the country’s history. France took this move as a "stab in the back".