AUKUS: Australia to buy as much as 5 nuclear submarines from the US

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Australia will purchase as many as 5 US nuclear-powered submarines and later construct a brand new mannequin with US and British know-how underneath an bold plan to beef up Western muscle throughout the Asia-Pacific within the face of a rising China, a US official mentioned Monday.

President Joe Biden was internet hosting his Australian and British counterparts, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, on a US naval base in San Diego, California, to announce the plan.

Australia, which joined the newly shaped AUKUS group with Washington and London 18 months in the past, won’t be getting nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, with nuclear propulsion, the brand new submarine fleet will add substantial new energy to the Western alliance in search of to push again in opposition to China’s personal navy enlargement.

Biden’s nationwide safety advisor, Jake Sullivan, advised reporters flying on Air Power One to California that the submarine plan illustrated Washington’s long-term dedication to guarding “peace and stability” within the Asia-Pacific area.

The partnership with Australia, which entails sharing secret nuclear know-how beforehand solely given to Britain, is “a decades-long, perhaps a century-long dedication,” Sullivan mentioned.

Three conventionally armed, nuclear-powered Virginia class vessels will probably be offered “over the course of the 2030s,” with the “risk of going as much as 5 if that’s wanted,” Sullivan mentioned.

The brand new mannequin, additionally nuclear-powered and carrying typical weapons, is a longer-term undertaking and will probably be dubbed the SSN-AUKUS, he mentioned. Will probably be constructed on the bottom of a British design, with US know-how, and “important investments in all three industrial bases,” Sullivan mentioned.

Protection spending on the rise

Whereas Australia has dominated out deploying atomic weapons, its submarine plan marks a major new stage within the US-led try and counter rising Chinese language navy energy, together with Beijing’s building of a classy naval fleet and turning synthetic islands into offshore bases.

Within the face of the Chinese language problem — and Russia’s invasion of pro-Western Ukraine — Britain can also be shifting to beef up its navy capabilities, Sunak’s workplace mentioned Monday.

Greater than $6 billion further funding over the subsequent two years will “replenish and bolster very important ammunition shares, modernize the UK’s nuclear enterprise and fund the subsequent part of the AUKUS submarine program,” Downing Avenue mentioned.

Australia had beforehand been on observe to switch its getting old fleet of diesel-powered submarines with a $66 billion package deal of French vessels, additionally conventionally powered.

The abrupt announcement by Canberra that it was backing out of that deal and coming into the AUKUS undertaking sparked a quick however unusually livid row between all three international locations and their shut ally France.

In comparison with the Collins-class submarines resulting from be retired by Australia, the Virginia-class is nearly twice as lengthy and carries 132 crew, not 48.

China warned that AUKUS risked setting off an arms race and accused the three international locations of setting again nuclear nonproliferation efforts.

“We urge the US, the UK and Australia to desert the Chilly Struggle mentality and zero-sum video games, honor worldwide obligations in good religion and do extra issues which are conducive to regional peace and stability,” Chinese language international ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning advised reporters in Beijing.

The communist nation’s chief Xi Jinping made a fiery assertion final week accusing the US of main a Western effort at “all-round containment, encirclement and suppression of China.”

However Washington says Beijing is alarming international locations throughout the Asia-Pacific with its threats to invade the self-governing democracy of Taiwan, in addition to highlighting the menace from nuclear-armed North Korea.