US President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday with Australian and UK leaders Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson a new tripartite AUKUS pact focused on defense cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. It includes helping Australia build nuclear-powered submarines. The new initiative is widely viewed as a step to strengthen US allies in global rivalry with China. These countries should “abandon their Cold War mentality and ideological prejudices,” responded the Chinese Embassy in Washington.
– Thanks to AUKUS, our nations will increase our collective capabilities to face the threats of the 21st century, as we did in the 20th century together – announced the President of the USA Joe Biden in the White House, during a virtual meeting with the Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison and the Prime Minister of Great Britain Boris Johnson. – We are taking this historic step (…) because we are all aware of the need to ensure peace in the Indo-Pacific region for a long time – added the president.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the project to build new nuclear-powered submarines will be a huge challenge. “It will be one of the most complex and technically demanding endeavors, lasting decades and requiring the most advanced technology,” he said. “This will bring Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom even closer than ever,” he added. He stressed that only a few countries have nuclear submarines.
Scott Morrison announced that the ships will be built in Adelaide after 18 months of consultations between the three countries on safety and the construction process. The prime minister stressed that although the ships would be powered by nuclear reactors, they would not be armed with nuclear weapons.
The US, Australia and the UK announce a new defense pact
According to the White House, the new agreement, concluded 70 years after the ANZUS treaty between the US, Australia and New Zealand, is intended to facilitate information exchange and technological cooperation in key areas such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, quantum and missile technologies, and underwater systems.
The new initiative is widely seen as a step to strengthen America’s allies in the global one competition with China. However, during conversations with journalists, White House representatives emphasized that the new initiative “is not directed against any state”.
– It’s about increasing the deterrent capacity in the Indo-Pacific, it’s about being the guarantor of a rules-based order. There have been many questions lately about whether the United States still has the will to play such a role. President Biden says “we’re in”, we are fully committed, said the High Representative of the Administration.
Australia will produce nuclear-powered ships, China criticizes the pact
As a result of the cooperation, Australia is to build nuclear-powered submarines based on American and British technology. Australia’s participation in the nuclear-powered shipbuilding project comes after the government in Canberra reportedly dropped out, including due to delays and disputes over costs – from the implementation of the contract with the French concern Naval Group for the construction of 12 ships for 66 billion dollars.
The White House announced that because Australia is “starting from scratch” for nuclear powered ships, it could take years to work together to build a suitable base and infrastructure to do so.
When asked for comment, Chinese embassy spokesman in Washington, Liu Pengyu, said countries “should not build mutually exclusive blocs to harm third party interests. In particular, they should shake off Cold War mentality and ideological prejudices.”
Main photo source: Reuters Archive