Sept. 16 (UPI) — The United States on Wednesday announced it will share its nuclear-powered submarine technology as part of a three-country defense partnership with Britain.
The leaders of the three countries announced the trilateral security partnership, known as AUKUS, in a virtual meeting on Wednesday, stating its first major initiative will be to deliver a nuclear-powered submarine fleet for Australia “with the aim of working hand in glove to preserve security and stability in the Indo-Pacific.”
“Over the next 18 months, we will work together to seek to determine the best way forward to achieve this,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. “This will include an intense examination of what we need to do to exercise our nuclear stewardship responsibilities here in Australia.”
Morrison added the submarines will be built in Adelaide, Australia, “in close cooperation with the United Kingdom and the United States” but asserted Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability.
U.S. President Joe Biden joined the other leaders Wednesday in assuring that the submarines will merely be powered by nuclear power but will be conventionally armed.
“I want to be exceedingly clear about this: We’re not talking about nuclear-armed submarines,” Biden said. “These are conventionally armed submarines that are powered by nuclear reactors.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the three nations will be “joined even more closely together” through the partnership.
“Only a handful of countries possess nuclear-powered submarines and it is a momentous decision for any nation to acquire this formidable capability and, perhaps, equally momentous, for any other state to come to its aid,” said Johnson. “But Australia is one of our oldest friends, a kindred nation and a fellow democracy, and a natural partner in this enterprise.”
Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton on Wednesday also said the situation in the Indo-Pacific is “deteriorating” and alliances are the only way to defend international rules-based order.
Biden said the joint effort represents a broader trend of key countries, particularly in Europe, “playing an extremely important role in the Indo-Pacific.”
“We need to be able to address both the current strategic environment in the region and how it may evolve, because the future of each of our nations and indeed the world depends on a free and open Indo-Pacific, enduring and flourishing in the years ahead,” he said.