AUSTRALIA says it is committed to the security and prosperity of the Pacific and wider Indo-Pacific region.
Solomon Islands is a partner and close friend of Australia, underpinned by a transparent, honest relationship of mutual respect between two sovereign and independent states.
“Alfred Sasako’s article on 21 September (‘Will it be used as a nuclear-powered submarine base’) has no basis in fact,” a statement from the Australian High Commission in Honiara says.
“As both Prime Minister Sogavare and Prime Minister Morrison have said, the Western Border Patrol Outpost is a critical, infrastructure project to boost Solomon Islands’ border and maritime security,” the statement added.
“The new facility is a sovereign Solomon Islands asset, and will be owned and operated by the Solomon Islands Government.
“It is not an Australian military base and there is no intention to use it as a ‘nuclear-powered submarine base’.”
The statement said the facility is being designed in partnership with the Solomon Islands Government and will be built to Solomon Islands needs and requirements.
“It will bring together Solomon Islands police, customs and immigration officials in a single location to reinforce the security of Solomon Islands’ western border.
“It will also deliver new facilities to coordinate operations, accommodation, and a wharf specifically designed to support RSIPV Taro and Gizo, Solomon Islands’ Guardian-class Patrol Boats, and Australian-gifted fast boats.
“Australia remains a strongly committed member of the Pacific family.
“AUKUS will create an enhanced security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and United States that will allow us to better share technology and capability.
“It is not a defence alliance. AUKUS complements the Australian Government’s network of partnerships, including with our Pacific family.
“In a rapidly changing strategic environment, Australia’s participation in AUKUS will strengthen our ability to work with regional partners in support of regional stability and security, within the rules based framework on which our collective prosperity is built.”
The statement said as a three-ocean nation dependent on seaborne international trade, Australia requires cutting edge naval capabilities.
It added the first initiative under AUKUS is to support Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines for the Australian Defence Force.
“The establishment of AUKUS enables Australia to leverage nuclear powered submarine expertise from the United States and the United Kingdom, building on decades of experience in their respective submarine programs to greater support our allies in the Indo-Pacific.
“While these submarines will be nuclear powered, they will not carry nuclear weapons. Australia does not and will not seek such weapons.
“Australia has no plans to develop a civil nuclear power industry.
“We remain steadfast in our support of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and are committed to continuing to meet our obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Treaty of Rarotonga.
“We will ensure our actions, especially in relation to the management of nuclear material, are consistent with our international obligations and comply with the highest operational safety standards.
“Australia is striving to retain an inclusive regional order where the rights of all states are respected.
“Australia is a strong proponent of a rules-based maritime order.
“We support all countries being able to exercise their rights and freedoms consistent with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“The High Commission regrets that, yet again, Mr Sasako made no attempt to contact the High Commission for the facts prior to publishing this article.”