President Duterte’s spokesman has expressed concern about China’s possible deployment of nuclear weapons in the South China Sea.
Speaking today (Thursday, August 23), Harry Roque said: “We are concerned about the entry of any and all nuclear weapons into the Philippine territory because our Constitution provides that we are a nuclear-free zone.”
He also said that that there was an Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) treaty declaring the whole regional bloc to be nuclear-free.
“We are concerned about the possibility that any foreign power be it American, Russian, Chinese may bring nuclear warheads into our territory and into Asean, which is declared as a nuclear-free zone.”
Roques words follow the Pentagon’s release of an annual report to the US congress, entitled Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.
However, as we reported on Tuesday, this report makes no mention of nuclear weapons, and instead warns of Chinese plans to deploy a fleet of floating nuclear power stations in the disputed waters.
The report, issued last Friday, said: “China’s plans to power these islands may add a nuclear element to the territorial dispute.
“China indicated development plans may be underway to power islands and reefs in the typhoon-prone South China Sea with floating nuclear power stations; development reportedly is to begin prior to 2020.”
In today’s press briefing, Roque broadened the issue to turn the focus onto the US military. He said: “The important point to underscore is we have a nuclear-free policy and that should be applied to all countries, including the Americans, because the Americans have been using nuclear-powered [weapons] and have been stationing warships with nuclear capability as well.
“So the concern is against all possible nuclear-carrying vessels from all countries.”
Roque added that it was not possible for the Philippines to verify what he described as a “US observation”.
“That is a US observation. We are not in a position to verify that. As you correctly said, it is even in the nature of speculation. It is a possibility, according to the American sources. So we leave it at that,” he said.
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