Sydney, Australia, Sep 27 (EFE).- Australia said Monday that the defense pact signed earlier this month between Canberra, London and Washington (known as AUKUS) as a counterweight to Beijing, will not involve the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Australia, within the framework of AUKUS, remains fully in line with our non-proliferation (nuclear weapons) obligations,” Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in an opinion piece published on the country’s Foreign Office website.
The chancellor said some countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are concerned about AUKUS, which includes the development of nuclear submarines in Australia, without giving details.
Australia said this pact will contribute to maintaining peace, security and the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific, the scene of territorial disputes in the South China Sea and free navigation in this area through which one third of world maritime trade circulates and is rich in oil and gas.
Beijing is suspicious of the pact and called it a Cold War mentality, while Malaysia and Indonesia said they are concerned AUKUS could provoke regional powers to act more aggressively.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said hours after the pact was announced that nuclear submarines will not enter their territorial waters in line with their anti-nuclear policy in the Pacific, the scene of nuclear tests in the 1980s by France.
Australian National University intelligence and international security expert John Baxland said during a recent meeting with the foreign press, that future Australian nuclear submarines will have “a highly enriched uranium propulsion system, like the one used by Americans and British, in contrast to the French low uranium enrichment option.”
The alliance also caused the breaking of an agreement with France for the acquisition of conventional mixed propulsion submarines (diesel and electricity). This caused a diplomatic crisis in Paris with Australia and the United States, which Washington began to repair and which will take time for Canberra to normalize. EFE