Australia to Gain Nuclear-Powered Submarine From Joint Defense Effort With US, UK

CC BY 2.0 / Phil Whitehouse / Australia DayAustralia Day, Sydney Harbour
Australia Day, Sydney Harbour - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.09.2021
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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden held a virtual news conference on Wednesday to unveil their new joint partnership on advanced defense-tech sharing.
Morrison revealed in his address that the first major initiative of the new trilateral security partnership - dubbed AUKUS - will be to deliver Australia its first nuclear-powered submarine fleet.
The Australian Prime Minister detailed that the trio will take the next 18 months to decide the "best way to achieve this."
"We intend to build these submarines in Adelaide, Australia, in close cooperation with the United Kingdom and the United States," Morrison added.

"But let me be clear," he said. "Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons [nor] establish nuclear capability. And we will continue to meet all our nuclear non-proliferation obligations."

Later in the joint, virtual news conference, Johnson proclaimed that the UK has chosen to embark on the trilateral security partnership with the US and Australia to make the world safer and generate more jobs in the UK.
Biden closed out the event, touting the strength of ally bonds across the globe. He noted that when it comes to the Indo-Pacific, France already has a "substantial" presence and plays a key role in strengthening the security and prosperity of the region.
The US president highlighted that the overarching goal of AUKUS is to ensure allies have modern capabilities to properly defend against "rapidly evolving threats."
He also emphasized that Australia's future nuclear submarine fleet will not be armed with nuclear weapons.
"We're not talking about nuclear-armed submarines, these are conventionally-armed submarines that are powered by nuclear reactors," Biden asserted.

AUKUS Mission

Australia, UK and US governments will move to strengthen each other's ability to support security and defense interests
Countries will promote deeper sharing of information and technology
Countries will foster a deeper integration of security and defense-related science, technology, industrial bases and supply chains
Countries will deepen cooperation on a range of defense and security capabilities
Countries will focus on bolstering cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and additional undersea capabilities

Naval Group, New Zealand and China Respond to AUKUS

France's Naval Group voiced "deep disappointment" in response to the Wednesday AUKUS announcement, as the news torpedoed Australia's $90 billion submarine contract with the defense contractor.
The deal would have been Australia's largest defense contract to date.
Meanwhile, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern applauded the trio's new mission, revealing that Morrison discussed the partnership with her on Wednesday.

"We welcome the increased engagement of the UK and US in the region and reiterate our collective objective needs to be the delivery of peace and stability and the preservation of the international rules based system," the New Zealand Prime Minister said on Thursday, noting that the endeavor "in no way changes our security and intelligence ties" with the three countries.

"New Zealand’s position in relation to the prohibition of nuclear powered vessels in our waters remains unchanged," she added.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington panned the trilateral partnership, calling on the US and its allies to "shake off their Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice."
"Exchanges and cooperation between countries should help expand mutual understanding and trust," the spokesperson declared, as reported by the WSJ. "They should not build exclusionary blocs targeting or [harm] the interests of third parties."
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