Australia’s new submarine fleet has no nuclear capabilities, only nuclear propulsion, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said at a press conference in Malaysia.
The minister was asked about Malaysia’s concerns about the new US-UK-Australia Defense Pact known as AUKUS and Australia’s nuclear submarine construction program.
Malaysia had previously warned that the agreement could lead to an arms race in the region.
“It’s worried about Malaysia,” Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob told the financial newspaper Nikkei Asia last month.
“AUKUS is about nuclear submarines, not nuclear itself, but I’m worried if other major economies are using AUKUS.
“For example, if China wants to help North Korea buy a nuclear submarine, we can’t say no because AUKUS set a precedent.”
However, Mr Wong has moved to ease concerns about the submarine deal inherited from the former Morrison administration.
“On the contrary, we promised to support this feature,” she said.
“Second, this is very important. We are not nuclear. There are nuclear power plants in the area, but Australia is not one of them.
“What we are doing is replacing existing features with new ones.
“We are talking about nuclear propulsion, not nuclear weapons.
“But we are very clear that we do not try to give submarines nuclear capabilities, nor do we.
“Sometimes people will hear the word nuclear, and I understand that there is a reaction to it.”
Wong added that the region has been “economically and strategically” reshaped and countries such as Australia and Malaysia have survived this period of change.
Last year, the former Morrison government broke a $ 90 billion contract with French shipbuilder Naval Group to build 12 submarines.
Instead, it decided to pursue a nuclear submarine under the AUKUS partnership with the United Kingdom and the United States.
The contract was revoked by the Government of Morrison on the advice of the Australian Defense Force’s capacity requirements.
Labor supported the advice in opposition, but Prime Minister Anthony Albanese criticized how the previous administration processed the decision, saying it caused “great tension” in relations between Australia and France.
Earlier this month, the Albaniji government announced that it had reached a $ 830 million settlement with the Navy group over the abandoned move.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong moves to ease concerns about Australia’s nuclear submarines
Source link Foreign Minister Penny Wong moves to ease concerns about Australia’s nuclear submarines