China Accuses U.S. of Being Deliberately 'Vague' Over Nuclear Sub Accident

China has piled on its criticisms of the United States for its handling of a nuclear-powered submarine's collision with an unknown object last month, accusing Washington on Tuesday of being "deliberately vague" about the details.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin was responding to Monday's brief statement by the U.S. 7th Fleet, which said an investigation determined the Seawolf-class attack submarine USS Connecticut had struck an "uncharted seamount"—an underwater mountain—on October 2.

United States Naval Institute (USNI) News, which was the first to report the incident, said it occurred in the contested South China Sea. The U.S. Navy, however, has not revealed the precise location of the operation beyond naming "international waters in the Indo-Pacific region."

The service said USS Connecticut, one of three of its class, was being assessed for repairs, but its nuclear reactor and propulsion system were unharmed. It didn't confirm the incident until five days later.

Beijing continued its weeks-long campaign to use the incident to call for an end to all U.S. military deployments to the seas and skies around China, especially to the South China Sea, nearly all of which is claimed by the Chinese government as part of its "nine-dash line."

Wang repeated China's call for a "detailed account of the incident."

"What we've seen is that it took the U.S. nearly a week to issue a vague statement about the nuclear submarine's collision with an unknown object. Nearly a month after the incident, it now says it hit an uncharted seamount," he added. The U.S. has also been "deliberately vague" about the location of the accident, he said.

Wang continued: "The U.S. has not provided any clarification on concerns including the intention of the nuclear submarine's navigation, nor has it said whether the incident happened within a country's exclusive economic zone or even territorial waters, and whether the incident resulted in a nuclear leak or damaged the marine environment."

In a concerted rhetorical campaign that has ramped up since the U.S. and U.K. announced plans to share sensitive propulsion technology with Australia as part of the AUKUS agreement, the Chinese diplomat said the recent accident showed a "lack of transparency and irresponsibility" on the part of the U.S.

He renewed calls for the U.S. to "stop deploying military vessels all over the place," predicting "not less, but more" of the same incidents in the future.

According to a USNI News report on Monday, USS Connecticut was forced to surface and sailed to Guam, where it remains. It was unclear how long the ship would remain out of operation.

Officials told the website that 7th Fleet command would determine whether additional accountability over the incident was necessary.

China Criticizes U.S. Over Submarine Accident
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin takes a question during the daily Foreign Ministry briefing in Beijing on July 24, 2020. - China on July 24 ordered the U.S. consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu to close in retaliation for one of its missions in the United States being shuttered, capping a furious week of Cold War-style diplomacy. (Photo by GREG BAKER / AFP) (Photo by /) GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images