Malaysia and Indonesia both object to Australia’s decision to buy nuclear-powered submarines, even though nuclear weapons are not part of the plan, Malaysia’s foreign minister said Monday.
The trilateral security pact, dubbed AUKUS, was agreed last month between Australia, the US and the UK. Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said the two Southeast Asian countries were equally worried about the consequences.
“We agreed on the latest issue in the region regarding countries near our region buying nuclear-powered submarines,” Saifuddin said at a joint press conference after meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.
“Even though that country (Australia) does not have nuclear weapons capacity, we are concerned and concerned.”
Indonesia last month said it was concerned that AUKUS could lead to a regional arms race.
The agreement comes amid rising tensions in the East and South China Seas, waters through which ships carry billions of dollars worth of goods or about a third of global trade.
The Philippines, a US defense ally, backs AUKUS, saying the pact offers the counterweight needed to deal with an increasingly assertive China.
Malaysia had previously said it would look into the issue with China and ASEAN. [vm/jm]