Australia has been embarking on its most significant change of defense and strategic direction for decades with the aim of making the fleet’s next submarine fleet nuclear-powered.
- Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States have formed a new security partnership called AUKUS
- As a first initiative, AUKUS will build nuclear submarines for Australia’s fleet
- The new partnership is designed to address threats in the Indo-Pacific
In an agreement announced by US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the US will share secret nuclear technology to help Australia switch to nuclear-powered boats.
The Navy will be the first initiative from a newly formed trilateral security partnership called AUKUS.
Morrison said the “next-generation” partnership would help ensure the region’s security.
“Our world is getting more complex, especially here in our region, the Indo-Pacific,” Morrison said.
“This is affecting us all. The future of the Indo-Pacific will affect all of our future.”
The agreement does not cover nuclear weapons, only the propulsion system, which has always been conventional diesel-electric in Australia’s submarine classes.
“We will continue to fulfill all our commitments on non-proliferation.”
Johnson also stressed that the agreement did not violate nuclear non-proliferation treaties.
“We are opening a new chapter in our friendship, and the first task of this partnership will be to help Australia acquire a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines and, of course, emphasize that those submarines will be powered by nuclear reactors – not armed with nuclear weapons,” he said.
“Our work will be fully in line with our non-proliferation obligations.”
Partnership to ‘ensure’ the region’s stability now and in the future, says Biden
In a joint statement, the three executives said AUKUS would also leverage UK and US expertise to bring cyber, artificial intelligence and quantum computing capabilities to Australia.
Thanks to “the colleague Down Under”, US President Joe Biden said the new partnership would ensure that the three countries had the most modern options for defending themselves against “rapid threats”.
“We are taking another historic step to deepen and formalize cooperation between all three of our nations because we all recognize the need for long-term peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific,” Biden said.
The leaders said they aimed to “bring an Australian [nuclear submarine] capacity in use on the earliest available date “.
Because the agreement is exclusively between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, the federal government is likely to have to free itself from the existing agreement with the French naval group that was previously selected to build the next navy of conventional attack classes.
The defense had openly discussed abandoning the $ 90 billion project since June, when the French deal faltered.
Peter Jennings, chief executive of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, backed the new deal, saying his first response was “surprise”.
“This is something that has been negotiated very quickly and of course has been kept quiet in Canberra,” he told ABC News.
“The irony is that when we chose the French-designed submarine a few years ago, we actually took a nuclear-powered submarine and have spent millions of dollars on turning it into a diesel submarine.”
Sir. Jennings said Australia would probably have to spend more money on its defense budget to support the partnership.