South China Sea Nuclear Escalation Could Follow US-Australia Submarine Deal: Malaysia

20-Sep-2021 Intellasia | Newsweek | 5:02 AM Print This Post

Malaysia’s prime minister criticised and raised concerns over Australia’s new deal with the United States to attain nuclear-powered submarines.

Prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob warned that the deal between the US and Australia could lead to a nuclear arms race in the region, Malaysia’s Daily Express newspaper first reported. The Malaysian leader raised his concerns directly with Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison in a Friday phone call, according a statement from Yaakob’s office.

“At the same time, it will provoke other powers to take more aggressive action in this region, especially in the South China Sea,” the Malaysian leader warned in a Saturday statement. He also asserted that Malaysia would continue to ensure its regional waters are a “Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality” as declared under a 1971 agreement with Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Nuclear escalation in the South China Sea could follow the recent U.S.-Australia submarine deal, warned Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Saturday. In this photo, Yaakob arrives at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur on August 20.

Nuclear escalation in the South China Sea could follow the recent U.S.-Australia submarine deal, warned Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Saturday. In this photo, Yaakob arrives at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur on August 20.

A State Department spokesperson pushed back against Malaysia’s assessment of the new agreement with Australia.

“A free and open Indo-Pacific region is critical to the security and prosperity of the American people and for our allies and partners. This partnership will help defend our shared interests there for generations,” the spokesperson told Newsweek.

“This enhanced security partnership is especially important given the changing strategic environment in the region. It demonstrates US commitment to revitalising our alliances and strengthening them to take on the challenges of the 21st century.”

The plan with Australia has drawn substantial criticism from several nations. China the regional superpower condemned the decision as “extremely irresponsible.” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said during a press briefing that it “seriously undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race.”

China claims most of the South China Sea as its own despite conflicting claims with regional nations including Malaysia and an international tribunal ruling against its claim in 2016.

https://www.newsweek.com/south-china-sea-nuclear-escalation-could-follow-us-australia-submarine-deal-malaysia-1630487

 

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