Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen on Thursday expressed concerns over the tripartite AUKUS alliance, a military pact among the United States, Britain and Australia.
Under AUKUS, which was formed in September 2021, Australia will be able to build nuclear-powered submarines with technology provided by the other two members.
“We are thinking with other ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries. We also express concern,” Hun Sen said in a speech at the Build Bright University in Phnom Penh.
“They claim that there is no nuclear (weapon), but if there is nuclear, how will it be?” he said. “Do they agree to allow us to check those submarines? They must not agree.”
Hun Sen said ASEAN is a nuke-free zone and called on big countries not to use their power to abuse small ones, saying that mutual respect and non-interference are essential for interstate relations.
Joseph Matthews, a senior professor at the BELTEI International University in Phnom Penh, said AUKUS is posing a major security threat to ASEAN and the whole Asian region.
“This alliance will trigger a conventional and nuclear arms race in the region, and thus destabilize the peace and security, undermine the economic development and destroy the ASEAN’s centrality,” he told Xinhua.