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Statement by H.E. Amb. Li Song on the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy at the Tenth NPT Review Conference

2022-08-08 18:30

Madam Chair,

The peaceful uses of nuclear energy is one of the three pillars of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), as well as an inalienable right of the States Parties to the NPT. China believes that in order to give full play to the role of the NPT in serving world peace and development in the new era, efforts should be made in the following three areas to promote international cooperation on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  

First, the central role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) needs to be enhanced. All Member States should actively support IAEA’s Technical Cooperation (TC) programme, pay their assessments of the Technical Cooperation Fund (TCF) on time and in full, ensure the sufficiency and predictability of the resources for the TC programme, and increase assistance and support for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy programs in developing countries. At the same time, the international community should support the IAEA in strengthening the efficiency and effectiveness of the safeguards system, promote the universality of the comprehensive safeguards agreements and additional protocols, and further improve the safeguards system, with a view to meeting new challenges in the field of nuclear non-proliferation.  

Second, the trend of politicizing the peaceful use of nuclear energy should be reversed. In recent years, some countries use export control as a geopolitical tool, abuse the pretext of national security to suppress other countries’ enterprises, and even try to turn the existing multilateral export control regime into a new version of the Coordinating Committee for Export to Communist Countries. These negative practices have seriously undermined international cooperation on the peaceful uses of emerging technologies including nuclear technology. The international community should resolutely oppose the artificial setting up of technical barriers and maintain the normal order of international cooperation. The 76th session of the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution on “Promoting International Cooperation on Peaceful Uses in the Context of International Security” proposed by China. The resolution will make new contributions to promoting international cooperation on peaceful uses on the basis of strengthening the existing non-proliferation regime. China will continue to advance the follow-up process of the resolution within the UNGA framework.

Third, we should attach great importance to nuclear safety and security. Nuclear safety and security is the lifeline of the sustainable development of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It is in the common interests of all parties to strengthen the security of nuclear facilities and materials and prevent nuclear terrorism. The international community should work together to uphold a rational, coordinated and balanced nuclear safety strategy, build a fair, collaborative and mutually beneficial international nuclear safety system, and build a community of shared future for nuclear safety. China is highly concerned about the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, supports the IAEA and its Director General in actively carrying out their duties, and calls on all parties to prevent political strife from interfering with the relevant work.

Madam Chair,

Japan’s discharge of contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident into the ocean has potential impact on marine ecology, food safety and human health, which cannot be ignored. In April last year, the Japanese government unilaterally decided to discharge nuclear contaminated water into the ocean. Such a decision is made purely out of economic considerations, without exhausting safe means of disposal or full consultation with neighboring countries and international agencies. Such a selfish act of transferring risks to the international community is neither responsible nor moral. There is strong public discontent in Japan. China, the Republic of Korea, Russia and Pacific Island countries have also expressed their concerns about it. 

To date, many countries are still highly concerned about the legitimacy of Japan’s nuclear contaminated water discharge plan, the reliability of data, the effectiveness of purification devices and the uncertainty of the environmental impacts. The IAEA Working Group has not yet reached a final conclusion in its assessment of Japan’s discharge plan. On the contrary, it has raised many suggestions for improvement. Regrettably, the Japanese side has turned a blind eye to these facts, continued to make preparations for the discharge, and hastily approved the discharge plan. Such an attempt to establish a fait accompli is not what a responsible country should do.

The discharge of nuclear contaminated water to the sea is not a private matter for the Japanese side. Japan should seriously respond to the concerns of the international community, return to the track of full consultation with stakeholders and relevant international agencies, and stop pushing through the sea discharge plan. We advise Japan to ensure that it disposes of nuclear contaminated water in an open, transparent, scientific and safe manner, including consideration of alternatives to sea discharge, and to accept strict supervision by the IAEA. This is a litmus test of Japan’s ability to effectively fulfill its international responsibilities.

Madam Chair,

China regards nuclear energy as an important component of a clean and efficient energy system that will help us cope with global climate change, achieving the goal of carbon peaking and carbon neutrality. By the end of June 2022, 54 nuclear power units are operating on the Chinese mainland, with a total capacity of 55.81 gigawatts and 24 nuclear power units have been approved or under construction, with a total capacity of 27.46 gigawatts. Since 2021, China’s independent third-generation nuclear power plant “Hualong One” has been put into commercial operation at home and abroad. China is also promoting diversified application of nuclear technology in social and economic areas. China has formed a relatively complete nuclear industrial system with an annual output value of nearly 700 billion RMB (about 103.5 billion USD). China has used nuclear technology for medical waste disposal, providing green, environment-friendly and efficient solutions to the fight against COVID-19.

China has leveraged the IAEA Technical Cooperation (TC) programme to expand technical support to other developing countries. China is the second-largest donator to the IAEA TC fund with a total donation of nearly 100 million USD by August 2022, with an annual donation of over 10 million USD since 2020. Over the years, China has received more than 4000 visits from other developing countries for the purposes of personnel training in science and technology areas, and sent over 3000 Chinese experts to developing countries to provide services. Meanwhile, China has signed inter-governmental agreements on nuclear energy cooperation with more than 30 countries, in a bid to conduct mutually beneficial cooperation to share the benefits of nuclear energy development and promote social and economic prosperity.

China has all along attached high importance to nuclear safety and security and made strenuous efforts to improve national capabilities, and maintained a good record. At the same time, China is faithfully fulfilling its international obligations on nuclear safety and security, vigorously promoting international cooperation in these areas, and deeply involved in international nuclear safety and security mechanisms and processes. China will continue to participate in the cooperation on conversion of miniature neutron source reactors (MNSRs) from highly enriched uranium into the low enriched uranium, and support countries in their efforts to minimize the use of highly enriched uranium in light of respective national needs, where economic and technological conditions permit, in order to reduce nuclear security risks.

Madam Chair,

The Chinese delegation has submitted the working paper on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which has elaborated on  China’s positions on this issue. It is hoped that its contents would be reflected in the Final Document of the Review Conference.  

Thank you, Madam Chair.

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