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A deeply concerning precedent has been set by the new security deal between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, Professor Robert Patman says.
The AUKUS enhanced security partnership, announced today by the leaders of those three countries, sets a precedent that endangers nuclear non-proliferation, the University of Otago international affairs specialist says.
The security deal is also likely to be viewed by Indo-Pacific nations as an unwelcome intrusion by Western military powers that could stir up Chinese militarism rather than calming a volatile situation, Prof Patman says.
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US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian leader Scott Morrison today stressed that Australia would not be fielding nuclear weapons, but would use nuclear propulsion systems for the vessels to guard against future threats.
"We will continue to meet all our nuclear non-proliferation obligations," he said.
The move comes as Washington and its allies are looking for ways to push back against China's growing power and influence, particularly its military build-up, pressure on Taiwan and deployments in the contested South China Sea.
- additional reporting by Reuters