Malaysia, Indonesia have reservations over Australia buying nuclear subs: Minister

The USS Santa Fe (top) sailing in formation with Royal Australian Navy submarines HMAS Collins, HMAS Farncomb, HMAS Dechaineux and HMAS Sheean. PHOTO: ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVY/FACEBOOK

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Malaysia and Indonesia share strong reservations over Australia's decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, even though nuclear weapons were not part of the plan, Malaysia's foreign minister said on Monday (Oct 18).

Referring to Aukus, a trilateral security pact agreed last month between Australia, the United States and Britain, Mr Saifuddin Abdullah said the two South-east Asian nations were similarly concerned about its ramifications.

"We agree on the latest issue in the region regarding a country near our territory that is purchasing new nuclear-powered submarines," he told a joint news conference after a meeting with counterpart Retno Marsudi.

"Even though that country doesn't have the capacity for nuclear weapons, we are worried and concerned."

Indonesia last month said it was concerned Aukus could lead to a regional arms race.

Malaysia previously said it would seek views on the issue with China and the Association of South-east Asian nations.

The deal comes amid increasing tensions in the East and South China Seas, conduits for trillions of dollars of shipments amounting to about a third of global trade.

The Philippines, a US defence treaty ally, has backed Aukus, saying it offers a necessary counterbalance to an increasingly assertive China.

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