After the UK-US agreement, the ambassador said his commitment to ASEAN is “steadfast as ever.”
Australia’s ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said on Monday that the Indo-Pacific security agreement between the US, UK, and Australia (AUKUS) does not alter Canberra’s commitment to the regional bloc.
Will Nankervis said in a statement that AUKUS is “not a military alliance or treaty,” but that the “improved security cooperation” between the three countries “will enable us to better exchange technology and capabilities.”
“Our commitment to ASEAN centrality remains unwavering… We are dedicated to maintaining a peaceful, secure region with ASEAN at its heart, as well as complementing and enhancing the current Asean-led architecture,” he added.
The US and UK will supply Australia with the technologies to construct nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS agreement.
Nankervis, on the other hand, made it plain that Australia has no desire to obtain nuclear weapons.
“Although these submarines will be nuclear-powered, they will not be equipped with nuclear weapons. Such weapons are not sought by Australia and will not be sought by Australia. We don’t want to build a civil nuclear capability, either,” the envoy said.
“Australia will continue to support the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Australia will cooperate closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency to maintain full compliance with our Non-Nuclear Weapons State commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
Canberra, he added, is “Asean’s longest dialogue partner” and continues to be a staunch backer of the “ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.”
He went on to say, “We are dedicated to the values in the Outlook, including Asean centrality, openness, transparency, inclusiveness, good governance, a rules-based framework, and respect for sovereignty and international law.”
Indonesia has encouraged Australia to fulfill its responsibilities as an NPT member since the alliance was announced, with the Foreign Ministry stating that Jakarta is “seriously worried” about the region’s “continuing arms race and power projection.”
“Indonesia emphasizes the significance of Australia continuing to fulfill all of its nuclear non-proliferation responsibilities… [and] urges on Australia to maintain its commitment to regional peace, stability, and security,” the ministry said last week in a statement.
Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam make up ASEAN.