skip to main content

Australia's neighbours voice concerns over ‘arms race' in wake of nuclear submarine decision

Australia's closest neighbours have raised concerns that the region is seeing an escalation in the regional “arms race” amid Canberra's decision to procure nuclear-powered submarines.

On 15 September the leaders of the US, Australia, and the UK announced the establishment of an “enhanced trilateral security partnership” known as AUKUS.

As part of the partnership, Australia would procure a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines with the assistance of the US and the UK.

In a statement issued on 17 September, Indonesia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said, “Indonesia is deeply concerned over the continuing arms race and power projection in the region”, and that it “takes note cautiously” on this decision.

“Indonesia calls on Australia to maintain its commitment towards regional peace, stability, and security in accordance with the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation,” the MFA statement added.

Jakarta concluded its statement by emphasising the need to respect international law, including UNCLOS 1982, to achieve peace and security in the region.

Echoing this sentiment on 19 September was Malaysia's Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah who went on to describe the establishment of AUKUS as one that “could lead to the escalation of arms race in the region”.

“It could also potentially spark tension among the world superpowers and aggravate aggression between them in the region, particularly in the South China Sea,” he said.

Saifuddin added that he has received a call from his counterpart in Canberra, Marise Payne, on the move, and is expecting a visit by Australian officials to Malaysia for further clarifications on Australia's intentions.

Meanwhile, Singapore's MFA issued a statement on 16 September stating that the republic's Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, has been briefed by his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on AUKUS.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...