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March 21, 2023
President Joe Biden met with the leaders of Australia and the United Kingdom on Monday to make a joint announcement that Australia will purchase nuclear-powered attack submarines from the United States to update its fleet due to concern about China’s rising influence in the Indo-Pacific.
Biden flew to San Diego to appear with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as they touted their 18-month-old nuclear partnership which has the acronym AUKUS, for Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The partnership, which was announced in 2021, will give Australia access to nuclear-powered submarines, which are stealthier and more capable than conventionally powered vessels.
Biden addressed criticism about the deal by saying the submarines are “nuclear powered, not nuclear armed.”
“These boats will not have any nuclear weapons of any kind,” he said at an outdoor ceremony at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego, where he was flanked by Albanese and Sunak. Two submarines, the USS Missouri and the USS Charlotte, were tied up at the next pier in the Pacific Ocean behind the leaders.
Albanese stated that the agreement “represents the biggest single investment in Australia’s defense capability in all of our history.” It’s also the first time in 65 years that the U.S. has shared its nuclear propulsion technology, ”and we thank you for it,” he said.
Sunak called AUKUS “the most significant multilateral defense partnership in generations.” He said the U.K. also will share its 60 years of experience running its own submarine fleet with Australian engineers “so they can build their own fleet.”
The three leaders issued a joint statement ahead of the announcement stating that their countries have enjoyed peace, stability and prosperity for decades.
“We believe in a world that protects freedom and respects human rights, the rule of law, the independence of sovereign states, and the rules-based international order,” they said in the statement, released before their joint appearance in San Diego.
“The steps we are announcing today will help us to advance these mutually beneficial objectives in the decades to come,” they said.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: LUKE MOCHERMAN
PHOTO CREDIT: AP NEWS