AUKUS – New Zealand Could Join US-UK-Australia Trilateral Nuclear Submarine Partnership – US Deputy Secretary Of State

New Zealand could eventually join the AUKUS alliance currently consisting of Australia, the UK and the United States, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said in an interview with Radio New Zealand.

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“We’ve always said that going forward, as we look at other emerging technologies and what that may mean for everyone’s security in the world, that there may be scope for others to join, so certainly if that time comes, New Zealand is a country with whom we would have a conversation,” Sherman said.

In September 2021, Australia, the UK and the US announced the AUKUS new trilateral partnership. Australia announced its withdrawal from a $66 billion contract with France to receive 12 state-of-the-art conventionally-powered attack submarines. The United States has vowed to enhance Australia’s military capabilities with nuclear-powered submarines.

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Unhappy China

China is calling on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to establish a special committee to discuss all aspects of the trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS), Chinese Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs Li Song said recently.

“I would like to emphasize that the AUKUS is not just a matter among the three countries nor is it a matter between the three countries at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Secretariat,” Li said.

“The stakes are high and the issue deserves comprehensive, full and transparent discussions in the treaty review process by agency member states. China advocates that the agency established a special committee, open to all member states, to discuss all aspects of the above-mentioned cooperation and its related safeguards.”

Li emphasized that the different positions and concerns of all parties regarding AUKUS should be put on the table for discussion.

In May, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the agreement among Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom to form the AUKUS security partnership is provoking an arms race in the South Pacific without any consultation with island countries of the region.

Meanwhile, Deputy Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control Igor Vishnevetsky had earlier said that the problem of the AUKUS trilateral partnership is that nuclear weapons may be deployed in the future on the non-nuclear Australian territory, on Saturday.

“The problem is that within the partnership’s framework, it is planned to create a military infrastructure for nuclear states on the territory of a non-nuclear state. There is a possibility that nuclear weapons may be placed there, albeit without formally transferring them to Canberra’s control, by analogy with Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey,” Vishnevetsky told reporters.

According to Vishnevetsky, there are quite a few questions for AUKUS, and the partnership participants “will have to answer them.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had earlier clarified that the submarines that Australia will get under the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) pact would be nuclear-powered, not nuclear-armed.

“Some have asked about our new partnership with the United Kingdom and Australia known as AUKUS. Through this partnership, Australia will acquire submarines. I want to emphasize that these submarines will be nuclear-powered, not nuclear-armed,” Blinken said at the NPT Review Conference at the United Nations in New York.

Other countries have this kind of submarine. And these will adhere to the highest safety and Non-Proliferation standards under the NPT. We’re working very closely with the IEA to make sure that that’s the case,” he added.