Malaysia has expressed concern, along with Indonesia, that a new security pact encompassing Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom might trigger a nuclear arms race in the Indo-Pacific area.
According to a statement from the Malaysian government, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison called his Malaysian counterpart Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Friday to explain that the tripartite group, known as AUKUS, was formed to assist the country in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines.
Ismail expressed concern to Morrison that AUKUS could provoke other states to become more assertive in the region, particularly in the South China Sea. According to the statement, the two prime ministers reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining peace, particularly in the Indo-Pacific.
Indonesia has previously expressed its “grave concern” about the region’s ongoing weapons race and power projection and urged Australia to meet its nuclear non-proliferation commitments and defend the rule of law as outlined in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS.
Singapore took a neutral stance, saying it hoped the agreement “would contribute constructively to the region’s peace and stability and complement the regional architecture.”
Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom will share technology and intelligence as part of the AUKUS partnership. The transaction, revealed on Wednesday, cancelled a 2016 agreement between Australia and France to buy 12 diesel-powered submarines from French manufacturer Naval Group, a move viewed in Paris as a betrayal that harmed trans-Atlantic relations.
In a diplomatic slap designed to show its displeasure with the loss of the multibillion-dollar submarine contract, France recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia.