Malaysia warns new Indo-Pacific pact may catalyze nuclear arms race in region

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Malaysia on Saturday expressed concerns that Australia’s plan to build nuclear-powered submarines under a new pact with Britain and the United States could catalyze a nuclear arms race in the Indo-Pacific region.

Australia will build eight nuclear-powered submarines under an Indo-Pacific security partnership that has riled China.

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“It will provoke other powers to also act more aggressively in the region, especially in the South China Sea,” Malaysia’s Prime Minister Office said in a statement.

The statement did not mention China, but Beijing’s foreign policy in the region has been increasingly assertive, particularly its maritime claims in the resource-rich South China Sea, some of which conflict with Malaysia’s own claims.

“As a country within ASEAN, Malaysia holds the principle of maintaining ASEAN as a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOFPAN),” the statement said.

Malaysia urged all parties to avoid any provocation and arms competition in the region.

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