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Biden announces nuclear military technology pact with Britain and Australia

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President Joe Biden announced a three-way partnership to share advanced defense technologies with Australia and Britain, taking steps to bolster U.S. allies after a chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal.

Biden detailed the United States's commitment in remarks in the White House East Room on Wednesday, telling British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison that the effort would help preserve regional order.

"We all recognize the imperative of ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific for the long term," the president said.

“This is designed not only to strengthen our capabilities in the Indo-Pacific but to link Europe and particularly Great Britain more closely with our strategic pursuits in the region,” a senior administration official told reporters earlier in the day.

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First on the agenda is a plan to shore up Australia’s military defense capabilities by developing nuclear propulsion technology for submarines. Technical, strategic, and naval teams from the three countries will lead the effort over 18 months.

“This will give Australia the capability for their submarines to deploy for longer periods. They’re quieter, they’re much more capable, they will allow us to sustain and to improve deterrence across the Indo-Pacific,” the official said.

The U.S. and the United Kingdom have partnered on their nuclear-powered submarine programs for decades, but drawing in Australia will add new might to their regional capabilities.

The trilateral deal, known as AUUKUS, is designed to boost cooperation on defense technologies, including cyber artificial intelligence and undersea capabilities, said the official. It will also bolster efforts to secure supply chains and security and defense-related science, technology, and industrial bases.

In video remarks, Johnson said the program "will be one of the most complex and technically demanding projects in the world."

Morrison, appearing on a screen alongside Johnson, said the submarines will be built in Adelaide, Australia, in close cooperation with the U.S. and U.K.

The White House said the deal was not explicitly to counter China but to support a rules-based order in the region. Biden did not answer shouted questions about what the deal would mean for China.

“This is not aimed at any one country,” the senior official said to reporters earlier. “This is about a larger effort to still sustain the fabric of engagement and deterrence. We have a history of innovation, upgrading capabilities.”

He said it was about preserving Asia's economic might.

“The most dynamic, commercial, economic, most vibrant region in the world is the Indo-Pacific," the official said. "But that vibrancy, that dynamism, rests on confidence and peace and stability.”

Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last month prompted sharp criticism from the U.K. and other U.S. allies and questions from regional partners.

Vice President Kamala Harris faced questions during a trip to Asia about whether long-term allies in the region should continue to view the U.S. as a reliable ally.

Harris said the administration was committed to Indo-Pacific security, slamming Beijing’s efforts “to coerce” and “intimidate” its neighbors in the South China Sea, threatening sovereign nations.

The official suggested that some responsibility for wavering expectations lay with former President Donald Trump.

“It’d be fair to say over the last several years there have been questions. ‘Does the United States still have the stomach? Do we have the wit and wisdom that we want to continue to play that role?’” he said. “What President Biden is saying with this initiative is, ‘Count us in.’”

The White House forecast a more prominent role for Britain.

“They’ve indicated to us that they do want to do more going forward,” said the official. “I think the process of this next 18 months is to help chart out what exactly that means.”

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The announcement comes ahead of the first Quad Leaders Summit at the White House next week with Morrison, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan.

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Tags: News, Biden Administration, White House, Joe Biden, China, Australia, Great Britain, National Security

Original Author: Katherine Doyle

Original Location: Biden announces nuclear military technology pact with Britain and Australia

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