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Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton. File photo: EPA-EFE

Aukus: Australia, US, Britain sign key deal in nuclear sub alliance

  • Australia’s defence minister joined US and UK diplomats in signing a pact allowing the exchange of sensitive ‘naval nuclear propulsion information’ between their nations
  • The Aukus deal, in which Australia would obtain eight nuclear-powered submarines capable of stealthy, long-range missions, has angered China
Australia on Monday formally embarked on a hotly-contested programme to equip its navy with nuclear-powered submarines in a new defence alliance with Britain and the United States.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton joined American and British diplomats in signing an agreement allowing the exchange of sensitive “naval nuclear propulsion information” between their nations.

It is the first agreement on the technology to be publicly signed since the three countries announced in September the formation of a defence alliance, Aukus, to confront strategic tensions in the Pacific where China-US rivalry is growing.

China’s envoy likens Australia to ‘sabre wielder’ over submarine deal

“The agreement will permit cooperation, which will further improve our mutual defence posture,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement on Friday ahead of Dutton’s signing ceremony in Canberra with US Charge d’Affaires Michael Goldman and British High Commissioner (ambassador) Victoria Treadell.

Under the Aukus deal, Australia would obtain eight state-of-the-art, nuclear-powered submarines capable of stealthy, long-range missions. It also provides for sharing cyber, artificial intelligence, quantum and unspecified undersea capabilities.

The agreement has angered China, which describes it as an “extremely irresponsible” threat to stability in the region.
It has also infuriated France, which discovered at the last moment that its own diesel-electric submarine contract with Australia – recently estimated to be worth A$90 billion (US$65 billion) – had been scrapped.

Australia-France ties will heal over mutual interest in Indo-Pacific: analysts

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been unapologetic about his handling of the agreement, insisting it was in his country’s national interest and that he knew it would “ruffle some feathers”.

On Friday, the White House Indo-Pacific coordinator said expanded US cooperation with partners was causing China “heartburn” and Chinese President Xi Jinping made clear to Biden in a virtual meeting that Washington’s work to bolster ties with allies represented Cold War thinking.
Campbell called Aukus a response to China’s military build-up, which he termed one of the largest in modern times, and pointed to both India and Vietnam as “critical” partners for future US regional strategy.
Kurt Campbell said the Quad security alliance made up of the US, India, Japan and Australia aimed to expand cooperation and that Japan had agreed to host a meeting of the group in 2022.


US, UK, Australia announce ‘historic’ military partnership in Pacific

US, UK, Australia announce ‘historic’ military partnership in Pacific
Former Japanese premier Shinzo Abe has said Japan should cooperate with the Aukus security partners on artificial intelligence and cyber capabilities.
“A key to realising a free and open Indo-Pacific is ensuring like-minded countries’ mid- to long-term engagement with the Indo-Pacific region. From this standpoint, I welcome the formation of Aukus,” he said in a speech at an online forum on Friday.
“It is extremely important to carry out multilayered efforts to promote the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region,” said Abe, who remains influential in Japan’s ruling party. “I believe Japan should engage in Aukus cooperation in such areas as cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence and quantum technologies.”
On Japan’s ties with Australia, Abe said the two countries needed to deepen further their special strategic partnership.

“Given the regional security environment which has become increasingly severe, there is a need to elevate Japan-Australia bilateral security and defence cooperation to a new level.”

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Landmark Aukus deal for subs signed