The leaders of Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom have announced that Australia will buy nuclear-powered submarines from the US. This is done in the context of the so-called Aukus covenant.
With the alliance, the three countries want to combine knowledge, technology and military strength in order to profile themselves in the South Asian region. Without saying so, the threat from China is the main reason for the alliance. China has a lot of power in the region and is very active militarily in the South China Sea.
US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the agreement in San Diego (US). Albanese calls this the largest investment in Australia’s defense in our history. “It strengthens national security and stability in the region.”
Three nuclear submarines
Australia will get three nuclear submarines by 2030, with an option to buy two more. In addition, the British and Australians will jointly develop new submarines using American technology.
The nuclear submarines are special because they can stay under water for a very long time. For example, they don’t have to come up to refuel. The submarines can be used for months of covert submarine operations. The entire project will probably cost around 225 billion euros.
China condemns deal
China has condemned the deal, saying it violates the international non-proliferation treaty. That states that the transfer of nuclear weapons is a violation of the treaty. Australia emphasizes that the submarines are nuclear-powered, but that they will not be equipped with nuclear weapons.
Biden said when asked that he is not afraid of an aggressive Chinese response. He said he will speak with Chinese leader Xi Jinping soon. He declined to say when that will happen.
The Aukus alliance was secretly concluded a year and a half ago, much to France’s dismay. Not only was the European Union excluded, the French also had a deal with Australia to build submarines for them, at a price of 50 billion euros. After the conclusion of the covenant, that agreement could go into the trash.
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