India-Pakistan dispute may pose nuclear threat to Asia: ex-Oz PM

Kevin Rudd

Asia continue to face three key conflicts involving states with nuclear weapons and highly uncertain nuclear doctrines, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd warned today.

"Asia Pacific was sprinkled with three flashpoints, each of which was capable of triggering one form of conflict or another," Rudd said in his keynote address at the Singapore Global Dialogue.

"We must never forget that all three of these disputes involve nuclear states and in some cases, states with highly uncertain nuclear doctrines," he warned, pointing to the dispute involving India-Pakistan, the Korean Peninsula, and the Taiwan Straits.

"With India and Pakistan - the world lives in continuing anxiety as to the consequences of any future Islamist terrorist attacks on the subcontinent," said Rudd.

"In Korea, we wait to see what unfolds with the new leadership, but remain deeply concern about the DPKR's (North Korea) continued nuclear weapons programmes," he pointed out.

"Across the Taiwan Straits, we are living through the best of times that we have seen since 1949 - a tribute to sound policies both in Taipei and Beijing, but always capable of political crisis and policy reversal," he stressed.

Rudd also pointed to the destabilising impact of Iran's nuclear weapons programme and its impact on the stability of the wider Middle East and beyond.

In the rest of the region, he noted that territorial claims to islands in the South China Sea, the East China Sea and the Japan Sea were now more volatile than they have been for more than a quarter of a century.

"Of course, our region hopes that common sense will prevail in the management of all these disputes, and that any escalation will be contained," said Rudd, pointing out that regional leaders he had interacted with had no intention of seeing these disputes degenerate into armed conflicts.

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