“We’re concerned about the entry of any and all nuclear weapons into the Philippine territory because our Constitution provides that we are nuclear free zone,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing.
Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/File
Palace concerned over report on China turning Spratlys nuclear
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - August 24, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang yesterday expressed concern over the possible entry of nuclear weapons into the Philippines after the Pentagon warned that Beijing might be trying to “add a nuclear element” to the territorial dispute with its plan to power its island outposts in the South China Sea.

“We’re concerned about the entry of any and all nuclear weapons into the Philippine territory because our Constitution provides that we are nuclear free zone,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing. It’s a position, he said, the Philippines shares with the rest of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“There’s also an ASEAN treaty declaring the whole ASEAN as a nuclear free zone and 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,” he added.

“The important point to underscore is we have a nuclear free policy and that should be applied to all countries including the Americans, because Americans have been using nuclear powered and have been stationing warships with nuclear capability as well. So the concern is against all nuclear, possible nuclear-carrying vessels from all countries,” the presidential spokesman said.

China claims about 90 percent of the resource-rich South China Sea, a claim disputed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

To assert its expansive maritime claim, China had built artificial islands in seven reefs within Philippines territory.

In an annual report submitted to the US Congress, the Pentagon said China has continued to build infrastructure in the South China Sea areas it controls. Aviation and port facilities, fixed weapon positions, barracks, administration buildings and communication facilities are being built in three outposts that may be capable of supporting military operation, the report added.

Pentagon said China’s plan to power the islands “may add a nuclear element to the territorial dispute.” Beijing indicated last year that development plans are underway to power islands and reefs in the South China Sea with floating nuclear power stations, according to the report.

Roque said the Philippines is not in a position to verify the contents of the Pentagon report.

“That’s a US observation. We are not in a position to verify that and as you correctly said, it is even in the nature of a speculation. It is a possibility according to American sources. So we leave it at that,” he said.  – With Jaime Laude, Czeriza Valencia, Evelyn Macairan

NUCLEAR SOUTH CHINA SEA
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