U.S. President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that Australia would purchase nuclear-powered attack submarines from the U.S. to update its fleet.
“Today, we’re announcing the steps to carry out our first project under AUKUS and developing Australia’s conventionally armed nuclear-armed submarine capacity,” Biden announced during a joint press conference in San Diego.
The agreement, known as “AUKUS,” describes a three-phase strategy that results in Australia and the U.K. building enhanced warships for their navies.
In phase one, the U.S. and U.K. will train Australian sailors and engineers to operate nuclear-powered submarines.
In 2027, the U.S. will deploy four Virginia-class boats to a naval port near Perth, Australia. Britain will deploy one of its submarines years after.
“From early in the next decade, Australia will take delivery of three U.S. Virginia class nuclear-powered submarines. We are also proud to partner with the United Kingdom to construct the next-generation submarine, to be called SSN-AUKUS,” Albanese said.
“A new, conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine based on a British design, and incorporating cutting edge Australian, U.K., and U.S. technologies,” Albanese added.
This significant and enduring investment will create thousands of direct jobs, advance our Defence capability, and transform our sovereign manufacturing capacity. pic.twitter.com/QyZh4u9zy1
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) March 13, 2023
Australia will construct submarines and maintenance facilities in Adelaide, the Capital of South Australia. CNN reported that the plan creates 20,000 jobs for Australians.
In phase two, the U.S. will supply approximately three and five of its Virginia-class submarines to Australia. The process begins in 2032. Australian sailors will operate the submarines, having trained to do so.
By phase three, Australia and the U.K. will start construction of the SSN AUKUS, which will be a modified version of the submarine Britain is designing. Both countries will build it.
According to U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks: AUKUS aims to reduce China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
“This latest budget expands production capacity even more, and procures the maximum amount of munitions that are most relevant for deterring and, if necessary, prevailing over aggression in the Indo-Pacific,” she said.
China condemned the deal and accused the U.S., U.K., and Australia of fueling an arms race to develop nuclear-powered submarines.
The Chinese mission to the United Nations (UN) said that the countries violated the Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by supplying Australia with submarines.
“The nuclear submarine cooperation plan released today by AUKUS is a blatant act that constitutes serious nuclear proliferation risks, undermines the international non-proliferation system, fuels arms races, and hurts peace and stability in the region,” the organization said.
China holds a strong influence over the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific region.