SI takes neutral stand on AUKUS nuclear deal


Solomon Islands has chosen to be on the fence with AUKUS’s recent decision to arm Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MFAET) Mr Collin Beck says Solomon Islands will continue to uphold the position not to participate in the power politics following the recent AUKUS nuclear arrangement signed between Australia, United Kingdom and United States.

Beck highlighted this during Wednesday’s media conference.

AUKUS is the trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, established in September 2021 for the Indo-Pacific region.

“Australia has been sharing information with Solomon Islands on the AUKUS arrangement,” Mr Beck said.

“Now what does that mean for Solomon Islands, it creates security dilemma for us. Security dilemma means when a state tries to strengthen its security situation, modernise its military etc., on certain perceived threats it does have implications for their neighboring countries, it does have implications for the wider region and globally, because it could trigger not only arms race.

“This is because this is a billion-dollar investment, it also takes away attention from major threat that is in front of us which is basically climate change.

“The second one is Solomon Islands to trying strike a balance in light of the changing military posture from our neighbours because we have a security deal with them as well.

“As a small Island country, we continue to hold the position by distancing ourselves and not to associate too closely with them.

“We do not want to participate in any power politics. The last power politics we have seen is during the World War II on our shores, tens of thousands of people have died in the Solomon Islands.”

Beck said Solomon Islands firmly believes in upholding a neutral position going forward.

“Our position is based on the friends to all and enemy to none approach. Solomon Islands remains a nuclear free state. We are a signatory to the Rarotonga treaty. This means that no nuclear vessel is allowed to enter our waters.

“It is because of the nuclear legacy that the Pacific has been facing, we have learnt so much in the past where bigger powers have used Pacific as a testing ground both atmosphere, land and under sea, we’ve been used as a place for tests, dumping and storage for nuclear waste.

“This is where our interpretation of Rarotonga treaty is very clear because of that legacy Secondly, the history of accidents of nuclear military vessels there is a history of that. In the event of an accident for example, that in itself Solomon Islands does not have the capacity to deal with the it.

“Thirdly, is the threat of contamination. Once it happens it has possibility, the perceived threat can wipe out tourism and fisheries. It can also contaminate our sea as well. A classic example is what happen in Japan at the stricken Fukushima Nuclear power plant.

“Even here we also have concerned about proposed plans for Japan to dump nuclear treated water in the Pacific Ocean. This has prompted us to be more sensitive in dealing with these issues. We respect the right of Australia but the implications for us is much more worrying.”

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