By | 26 Aug 2022 at 11:58 PM

China is the only nation that is expanding its nuclear arsenal and this build-up poses a threat to the stability of the region, US Indo-Pacific Commander, Admiral John Aquilino has said. According to a Canada-based think tank, International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS), the US Indo-Pacific Commander made the remark at a press conference in Indonesia where he disclosed that China had “300 nuclear silos going in”.

He warned that China’s growing nuclear arsenal threatens the Indo-Pacific region’s stability, with Beijing pursuing “the largest military buildup in history” since World War II. He further said, “If you’d like to talk about nuclear weapons and the concern for a nuclear arms race, all you have to do is look into the PRC (People’s Republic of China).”

Aquilino made the remarks following China’s opposition to Australia, UK, and US (AUKUS) defense pact, which will arm Australia with nuclear-powered submarines. Beijing said it poses nuclear proliferation risks. As per a report released by the US Department of Defense, China’s accelerating pace of its nuclear buildup could enable it to have up to 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027.

The report stated that China could plan to have at least 1,000 warheads by 2030, exceeding the US initial projection in 2020. “The PRC has already established a nascent ‘nuclear triad’ with the development of a nuclear-capable air-launched ballistic missile (ALBM) and improvement of its ground and sea-based nuclear capabilities,” the US Department of Defense report stated.

Meanwhile, the US Indo-Pacific Commander was in Indonesia for the Super Garuda Shield Exercise, an annual joint military exercise to improve regional cooperation. More than 5,000 troops from the United States, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, and Australia participated in the drill, which was held from August 1 to 14.

India, Canada, France, Malaysia, South Korea, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, and the United Kingdom joined as observer nations, IFFRAS reported. Beijing had accused the AUKUS nations of taking no notice of “serious nuclear proliferation risks”, warning that it could undermine “peace and security in the region.”

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said during a press briefing on July 29 that sharing nuclear information should not be allowed unless all stakeholders in the International Atomic Energy Agency agreed and if the body had oversight of the deal. The comments from Beijing come as the United Nations holds its Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons between August 1 to 26, which will be scrutinising AUKUS after China and Indonesia submitted review requests.

But Australia has said that its commitment to the treaty hasn’t wavered, which is why the country will obtain the weapons in the most transparent way possible. Australian Assistant Defense Minister Tim Ayres told the conference on August 2 that he is working with the international nuclear regulator and community to maintain “a nuclear weapons-free and independent Pacific.”

“All three (AUKUS) partners are committed to upholding our legal obligations and strengthening the integrity of the non-proliferation regime. We will not simply uphold but strengthen the regime’s integrity,” he said. Australia, the US, and the UK, in a joint working paper to the Conference, have said that all three countries are committed to transferring the top-secret technology in a way that accords with the highest possible non-proliferation standards, including the provision of “complete, welded power units” to Australia so they do not need to conduct uranium enrichment or fuel fabrication, IFFRAS reported.

Meanwhile, speaking at the NPT Review Conference at the United Nations in New York US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had said “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.” “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. (ANI)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)