Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, after a virtual meeting with the British Prime Minister and the US President, said that Australia intends to acquire US nuclear-powered submarines. It is part of the Tripartite Security Agreement between the three countries (AUKUS) announced on Thursday.
In cooperation with the United States and Great Britain, Canberra will build a nuclear submarine fleet of at least eight units.
Prime Minister Morrison stressed that Australia does not seek nuclear or civilian nuclear weapons and will continue to meet “all non-proliferation obligations”.
According to the media, the intention to switch to nuclear-powered submarines means the cancellation of 66 billion dollars. The 2016 agreement on the purchase of French conventional submarines also poses challenges, both technologically and geopolitically – and threatens to deteriorate relations with China.
“With one decision, Morrison broke several political taboos,” AFP wrote. It is about breaking the nuclear energy embargo and a possible increase in military tension in relations with China.
AFP notes that the deal assumes that Australia will have access to US technology not available even to close US allies such as Israel.
The agency cited experts who said it would also mean a close alliance with the US and UK over the coming decades, but at the same time it “puts Australia’s middle class at the center of rising tensions between Washington and Beijing”. “Not everyone sees it as a smart move,” the agency wrote.
According to expert Sam Roggevin of the Lowy Institute in Sydney, this decision “would be seen as a move against China and wouldn’t be surprising if they didn’t handle it well”. In addition, the new project “raises questions about the current nuclear embargo, and is sure to spark heated debate within the country and among its skeptical Pacific neighbors.” (PAP)
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