USA and Australia specify plans for nuclear submarines – criticism from China

The Australian Navy is to be equipped with nuclear submarines. China condemned the US-UK-Australia deal.

The US, UK and Australia have agreed on a concrete timetable to equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines. The declared goal of their alliance is to strengthen security and military deterrence in the Indo-Pacific – where China is also trying to expand its power. Shortly before a meeting of the heads of government of all three countries in San Diego, senior US officials presented the details of the new schedule.

According to this, the USA and Great Britain want to station submarines in Australia on a rotating basis from 2027. In the 2030s, Australia is then expected to build its own fleet of nuclear submarines. It is about a nuclear propulsion system, not about nuclear armament. First, the country will buy submarines from the United States, it said. In the long term, the three countries plan to jointly develop a submarine model that will eventually be built in Australia itself.

Security experts see the alliance and its major project primarily as an attempt to counter China’s increasing power drive in the Indo-Pacific – even if the three countries assure that their alliance should not send a signal to a single country.

The USA, Great Britain and Australia launched the security alliance called Aukus in 2021. The name is derived from the English abbreviations of the three countries (AUS, UK and USA). US President Joe Biden met with the heads of government from Great Britain and Australia, Rishi Sunak and Anthony Albanese, in San Diego, California, to discuss how the alliance should proceed. The US has a major military port in San Diego.

Multi-level schedule

US government officials commented in advance on the multi-stage timeline for the three-country project. The first phase is already underway and will be intensified in the coming years, it said. This included joint exercises and the training of Australian seafarers, engineers, technicians and other personnel. US and UK submarines would call more at ports in Australia. Australian sailors, in turn, would be tied into US and UK submarine units. From 2027, the stationing of rotating units of U.S. and British submarines in Australia is planned.

British Navy submarine (symbol image): Serious allegations are being made against the Royal Navy.
British Navy submarine (icon image) (What: IMAGO/AAP)

The second phase will begin in the early 2030s. Once Australians are properly trained, the country will buy three conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarines from the US, with the option to purchase two more if needed. In the long term, a new submarine model is to be built that combines American, British and Australian technology. This is said to be built initially in the UK from the late 2030s. At the beginning of the 2040s, the first model of this type to be manufactured in Australia should also be ready.

USA: No embassy to a single country – except to China

China condemns Aukus as nuclear armament. Biden stressed that the deal would not include any nuclear weapons. “These submarines are nuclear-powered, not nuclear-armed,” Trump said. “These boats will not have any nuclear weapons on board.” The nuclear drive is tested and safe. The US and UK had used it for almost 70 years, and both countries’ submarines would have circumnavigated the entire globe without incident. The technology is now shared with Australia.

The US officials reiterated that the primary goal of the Aukus Alliance was “to maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific and to deter and defend against rapidly evolving threats to the international order and system there.”

Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stressed that the alliance does not send a message to a single country. Rather, it is a positive message to all countries in the region and the world. The announcement of the plans did not come out of nowhere, but had been prepared over 18 months since the alliance was founded, he said.


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