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Australia seeks to calm ASEAN nerves over AUKUS, nuclear weapons

Ambassador vows pact won't affect bloc's 'centrality' in regional architecture

A U.S. nuclear-powered submarine: A pact that will hand Australia the technology for such vessels has raised concerns in Southeast Asia.   © Reuters

SINGAPORE -- Australia is striving to ease concerns in Southeast Asia about its new AUKUS coalition with the U.S. and U.K., which will help Canberra acquire nuclear submarines.

Will Nankervis, Australia's ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, pledged that his country "will not seek nuclear weapons" nor establish a civil nuclear capability in a statement issued on Monday. The release, titled "Australia's steadfast commitment to ASEAN centrality," also promises that AUKUS will not change the Indo-Pacific security architecture led by the Southeast Asian bloc -- another worry in some ASEAN capitals.

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