Indonesia claims success in fight over AUKUS nuclear subs

That brought a strong rebuke late last month from Foreign Minister Penny Wong, who slammed Moscow for having deliberately obstructed progress on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) “despite the urgency of the international security environment”.

But the Indonesian government still hopes to have a loophole on nuclear submarines closed and will press for close monitoring at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna this week.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong was highly critical of Russia for blocking a joint statement in New York.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong was highly critical of Russia for blocking a joint statement in New York.Credit:Alex Ellinghuasen

Jakarta is adamant the NPT must cover the concept of “nuclear-powered subs owned by a non-nuclear country”.

“Besides Australia, Brazil also develops the same program,” Tharyat said.

“In the case of Brazil all resources are provided by itself. The uranium comes from Brazil. The enrichment is developed by Brazil. So there is no transportation of uranium to Brazil. In the case of Australia there is transport [of uranium] to Australia.”

Indonesia, which will host the G20 leaders summit in Bali in November, took a lead role in New York with the support of Malaysia, which has also been vocal about Australia’s submarine ambitions.

Speaking in Jakarta on Monday, Tharyat said the AUKUS nations had originally challenged Indonesia’s proposal.


“Initially, their position was against [the proposal] but they agreed that safety is the main issue, safeguards are also an important point and that the process should be carried out in a transparent and inclusive manner,” he said.

“At the start, China disagreed on some parts and that AUKUS disagreed on some parts. But then our proposal was accepted.”

While Russia objected to a joint statement in New York, a draft made available by the UN said the conference “notes the importance of transparent and open dialogue” on nuclear naval propulsion and that non-weapon states pursuing nuclear technology for submarines “should engage with the
IAEA in an open and transparent manner”.

Wong’s office was contacted for comment.

Defence Minister Richard Marles has said he will unveil by next March whether Australia will proceed with US or British nuclear-powered submarine models.

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