By Repeka Nasiko in Suva
Nuclear-armed submarines are not welcome in Fiji waters.
Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka said this as he stressed he did not support any nuclear development that went against the Rarotonga Treaty and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons which Fiji is a signatory to.
“So people should not be worried about an escalation of nuclear weapons,” he said.
However, he confirmed that Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had informed him during his visit this week that global superpower United States, Australia and the United Kingdom were working on a AUKUS agreement to build a nuclear powered submarine.
“They are building a nuclear-powered submarine and it’s a AUKUS programme between Australia, UK and the US and it will not affect the Rarotonga Treaty nor the Non Proliferation (of Nuclear Weapons) Treaty,” he said.
“These ones will not be armed with nuclear weapons.”
He said a number of treaties ensured that non-nuclear power producing nations were not allowed to produce warheads.
“The Non-Proliferation Treaty is on nuclear arms,” he said.
“It was on the Strategic Arms Limitation talks series and had series one, two and three and it’s about the non-proliferation or non-growth of a number of nuclear warheads.
“Also the Lateral Proliferation which states that those that do not have nuclear capabilities, particularly warheads, should not develop them, but it does happen.”
He added that Fiji could benefit from the treaty through employment.
Australia, United Kingdom and the United States signed the AUKUS pact in 2021 and as part of the deal, Australia will acquire three Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines from the US.
Australia also plans to begin building a new fleet of nuclear-powered subs under a 30-year programme which could cost up to A$368 billion (F$546 billion).
The deal could see the nuclear-powered subs in operation around Australian waters from as early as 2027.
In a media briefing in Beijing on Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin accused AUKUS partners of breaking international rules on the spread of nuclear weapons.
Repeka Nasiko is a Fiji Times reporter. Republished with permission.