Biden and UK, Australian leaders confirm the details of the historic AUKUS pact
On Monday, President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed the details of the new SSN-AUKUS plan at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego, California.
The news: Biden announced that the mission of SSN-AUKUS is to develop some of the world’s most advanced submarines, combined with U.K. design and U.S. technology. He also said that the goal of the trilateral partnership is to ensure that the Indo-Pacific remains free and open, via BBC.
Under this partnership, Australia will purchase up to three Virginia class nuclear-powered submarines, with the option to purchase up to two more, with the move happening as soon as the early 2030s, the leaders said.
This historic trilateral partnership comes in light of increased tensions between the U.S. and China.
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Details: The president emphasized that none of the submarines will contain nuclear weapons, but will only be powered by nuclear energy, stating that the partnership will honor each country's obligations, specifically Australia’s strict non-nuclear weapon stance.
This is the first time in 65 years, and only the second time in history, that the United States has shared its nuclear propulsion technology, Albanese said.
This move is also the “biggest single event in Australia’s defense capability in all of its history,” the Australian Prime Minister added.
“This is a powerful partnership. For the first time ever it will mean three fleets of submarines working together across both the Atlantic and Pacific, keeping our oceans free, open and prosperous for decades to come,” said Sunak.
Albanese confirmed that people from the U.K. and Australia are currently undergoing nuclear power training in the U.S. to bring the plan to fruition.
British submarines will also be sent to Western Australia to train crews and bolster deterrence, Reuters reported.
The bigger picture: Prime Minister Sunak stated that recent events are more cause for the U.S. and allied countries to strengthen their relationships with one another.
“Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, China’s growing Assertiveness, the establishing behavior of Iran and North Korea - all threaten to create a world codefined by danger, disorder, and division,” Sunak said.
In a previous interview with The Wall Street Journal, Sunak stated that China poses an “epoch-defining systemic challenge,” to the U.K. and its allies, such as the U.S.
“[China is] a country with fundamentally different values to ours, and I think over the last few years it’s become increasingly authoritarian at home and assertive abroad,” Mr. Sunak said to the WSJ. “Its behavior suggests it has the intention — but also its actions show it is interested in reshaping the world order and that’s the crux of it.”
Crunching the numbers: AUKUS was first unveiled in 2021, when each of the countries announced that there would be increased military spending in order to interfere with China’s military activity in Asia, per CNN.
The Washington Post values the subs at $3 billion each.
BBC reported that the U.S. has dedicated a total of $4.6 billion to the construction and maintenance of the submarines. $2.4 billion of the total sum will be used through the years 2023-2027.