From left, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at a press conference at Point Loma Naval Base in San Diego, California, March 13, 2023.
Washington – Australia will buy three American nuclear-powered submarines of the Virginia type. The deal also includes an option to buy two more. This was first reported by White House security adviser Jake Sullivan, then US President Joe Biden confirmed it at a meeting with the British and Australian prime ministers. The submarines should be delivered from 2030.
In 2021, Britain, the US and Australia entered into a new security pact known as AUKUS. As part of this new defense alliance, Australia canceled the contract for the purchase of conventional French submarines in favor of nuclear submarines from the US, which damaged relations between Australia and France.
According to Biden, the goal of the initiative of all three countries is “to jointly develop something new – a new state-of-the-art nuclear submarine that will combine British submarines and design with American technology”. “I want it to be clear to everyone from the beginning. These submarines do not have nuclear weapons, but nuclear propulsion,” the American president emphasized. “Australia is a proud nuclear-free state and intends to remain so,” he added.
When asked if he thought China would view the submarine deal as an act of aggression, he simply said “no”. To another question, he noted that he expects to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping soon. When exactly, but he did not say.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called today a new chapter in relations between the countries in question. He said their friendship is built “on shared values regarding a peaceful and prosperous future”. According to him, the submarine deal is “the largest military investment in Australia's history”.
“Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine, China's increasing aggression, the destabilizing behavior of Iran and North Korea,” according to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak threatens the contemporary world. “That is why it is more important, more than ever, to strengthen the resilience of our countries,” he noted, and also called China the greatest state threat to British economic interests.
Today, Biden discussed the details of the defense project with Sunak and Albanesi at the American naval base in San Diego. The AUKUS alliance aims to “protect common interests in the Indo-Pacific”. In addition to technology, countries also want to share industrial bases and supply chains. According to Biden, the defense pact is proof of the “long-term ties between all three countries”.