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France’s Foreign Minister in Indonesia, raises concerns about AUKUS, nuclear submarines, and risks of weapons proliferation.

the theme of ‘betrayal’ in terms of both being ‘cheated’ out of a deal and being deceived by NATO allies and, in Australia’s case, a historical ally.

AUKUS was about ‘pressing a sense of confrontation with China’

if tomorrow Australia has some nuclear-powered submarines, why not, some other countries could ask for similar technology, it could be Indonesia, why not?’

Australia needs an entente cordiale with Indonesia over nuclear propulsion and non-proliferation, The Strategist, 29 Nov 2021, |David Engel  However relaxed and comfortable Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto might be about Australia’s plans to acquire nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs), the visit to Jakarta of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has probably validated the very different view of Le Drian’s counterpart, Retno Marsudi.

…………………………………………….  the most striking moment of the visit came during Le Drian’s address to Indonesia’s leading international affairs think tank, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). While his speech focused on issues such as multilateralism and the EU’s position on the Indo-Pacific, his response to a question on ‘minilateralism’—specifically, AUKUS and the Quad—took on a very different tone.

Ignoring the Quad, he levelled his remarks at AUKUS, stressing four points. The first two reiterated the theme of ‘betrayal’ in terms of both being ‘cheated’ out of a deal and being deceived by NATO allies and, in Australia’s case, a historical ally. He talked about American efforts to restore trust through various US commitments to France. He didn’t mention Australia in this context.

More significantly, his third point was that AUKUS was about ‘pressing a sense of confrontation with China’ (as the simultaneous translation put it). He said that, while France was not oblivious to China’s military threats and risks, he believed that the best way to respond to these threats was to ‘develop an alternative model rather than to first of all oppose’.

Perhaps his most significant point for Australian interests was his fourth, which went to the transfer of nuclear technology for submarine propulsion. He pointed out that until now no nuclear-weapon state had done this. But ‘if tomorrow Australia has some nuclear-powered submarines, why not, some other countries could ask for similar technology, it could be Indonesia, why not?’ He continued that, even though this technology was not covered by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the risk the arrangement posed of starting a trend was nonetheless of concern.

Irrespective of Le Drian’s intentions in answering the question in this manner—and it’s noteworthy that he didn’t cover AUKUS in his formal address—he would surely have known that his words would resonate powerfully with his audience, both at CSIS and more generally among Indonesia’s foreign policy establishment. While his depiction of Australia as duplicitous was evidently personal and heartfelt, it would also have struck a chord with those Indonesians who have characterised Canberra the same way over such issues as East Timor, Papua and spying allegations, irrespective of how justified that judgement might be.

Le Drian’s last point went directly to concerns about nuclear proliferation—issues that Indonesia highlighted in its official statement on AUKUS and the planned submarines. It corresponds closely ‘in spirit’ with subsequent official commentary to the effect that Indonesia was considering advocating a change to the NPT aimed at preventing non-nuclear-weapon states from acquiring SSNs………

 whoever governs in Canberra now and into the future should at least make a priority of assuaging Jakarta’s worries on this subject, however overstated and unbalanced they are. While Indonesia’s prospects of changing the NPT and precluding Australia from having SSNs look remote at best—not least because several of its ASEAN colleagues do not share its views of Australia’s ambitions—the sooner the two countries can put this latest irritant to rest the better.

In the circumstances, the onus for doing so must primarily rest with Canberra………https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/australia-needs-an-entente-cordiale-with-indonesia-over-nuclear-propulsion-and-non-proliferation/

November 30, 2021 - Posted by | Indonesia, politics international, weapons and war

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