Eyeing China, U.S. and U.K. commit to nuclear sub deployment to Australia with sale to follow

By Bill Gertz – The Washington Times

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, right, meets with US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister of Australia Anthony Albanese, left, at Point Loma naval base in San Diego, US, Monday March 13, 2023, as part of Aukus, a trilateral security …

The United States and Britain will deploy nuclear-powered attack submarines to Australia as part of the mini-alliance known as AUKUS, and Australia will buy up to five of the Navy’s frontline Virginia-class nuclear submarines in the coming years, the Biden administration disclosed on Monday.

With China’s growing clout in the region looming as a backdrop, the three-phase submarine acquisition program eventually also calls for producing a new British-Australian nuclear-powered attack submarine incorporating advanced U.S. submarine features by 2040, said officials who briefed reporters on the program.

President Biden traveled to California to meet with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at a U.S. naval base in San Diego, marking a major step forward in a deal that could shape the political and military dynamic of the region for a decade or more.

“Our plan elevates all three nations’ industrial capacity to produce and sustain interoperable, nuclear-powered submarines for decades to come, expands our individual and collective undersea presence in the Indo-Pacific, and contributes to global security and stability,” the three leaders said in a joint statement. “We believe in a world that protects freedom and respects human rights, the rule of law, the independence of sovereign states, and the rules-based international order.”

AUKUS — short for Australia, United Kingdom and United States — was announced in 2021 and called for Australia to develop nuclear-powered submarines to replace its less-stealthy diesel submarines. The accord has proved controversial from the start, drawing criticism not only from Beijing but from Paris, which lost out on a previously signed major submarine contract with Australia when the AUKUS deal was struck in secrecy in September 2021.

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