Indonesia’s Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, left, with President Joko Widodo.CREDIT:AP
Singapore: Indonesia Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto has revealed a pragmatism in Jakarta about Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine ambitions, saying he understands countries “will do whatever they can to protect themselves”.
Indonesia and Malaysia have expressed concerns publicly about the new trilateral defence agreement AUKUS being a potential catalyst for an intensifying build-up of arms in the region.
Prabowo, a likely presidential candidate again in the 2024 Indonesian elections after two unsuccessful runs, also repeated Jakarta’s formal stance during an appearance at a Middle East security forum. But the former army general conveyed a different perspective about AUKUS, the security deal between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom under which Australia is to acquire a fleet of nuclear-propelled submarines.
“Officially, our position is that of course south-east Asia should remain nuclear-free. And the fear of course among south-east Asian nations is that this will spark an arms race … this will spark more countries seeking nuclear submarines,” Prabowo said during an appearance at the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Manama Dialogue.