US Navy researchers have identified the “unknown object” that collided with a submarine — an unknown underwater mountain — in October in the South China Sea.
The USS Connecticut was in a “safe and stable condition” after the incident in the disputed waters, which sparked outrage among officials in China.
But the risk of fallout after damage to the nuclear-powered submarine has reportedly led the US to deploy a so-called “nuke sniffer” aircraft to identify any leaks — leaks that could U.S denied occurred.
A US Navy spokesman said: “The investigation has revealed that the USS Connecticut was grounded on an unknown seabed while operating in international waters in the Indo-Pacific region.”
Chinese military experts quoted by state-owned business news outlet Global Times said the US statement was disappointing and expressed concern about nuclear leakage.
Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, complained that the US statement was deliberately ambiguous about the location of the incident – with possible leakage that would pose a risk to countries in that area.
“The key is for the US military to stop sending warships and warplanes everywhere, showing its military muscles and violating the security of other countries. If it doesn’t, these kinds of accidents will only happen more often,” he said. he according to the Global Times.
US Navy officials said two sailors suffered moderate injuries and nine minor injuries, including bruises and scrapes.
They said the submarine was en route to the port of Guam after the incident and that it had not been previously announced to maintain operational security.
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An unusual number of Chinese aircraft were operating in the region on the day of the collision, as tensions over Taiwan’s sovereignty continue to mount.
In an apparent shift in long-standing policy, Joe Biden recently said that: the US would defend Taiwan when it was attacked by China.
The president said America had a “commitment” to come to the aid of the island, which has complained about… increasing military and political pressure from Beijing, which has a territorial claim.
However, the White House later said there had been no change in stance.
Washington has long followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” about whether it would intervene militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.
But asked at a town hall meeting if the US would get involved, Mr Biden said, “Yes, we have a commitment to do that.”
In August, a government official was forced to insist that US policy towards Taiwan had not changed after the president appeared to suggest that the US defend the island from aggression.
Commenting on Mr Biden’s latest comments, a spokesperson said: “We will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense and we will continue to oppose unilateral changes to the status quo.”