“Aukus” partnership will enable Australia to have nuclear-powered submarines for the first time
The US, UK and Australia have begun setting up a trilateral security partnership which will include helping Australia to build nuclear
powered submarine, the goal? Preparing for China!
US president Joe Biden and prime ministers Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison, joined virtually by videoconference made the announcement this week, The initiative, called Aukus is the next critical step in an old alliance.
Teams from the three countries will draw up a joint plan over the coming 18 months for assembling the new Australian nuclear-powered submarine fleet. The project will make Australia only the seventh country in the world to have submarines propelled by nuclear reactors, Morrison said.
“This will include an intense examination of what we need to do to exercise our nuclear stewardship responsibilities here in Australia,” the Australian prime minister Morrison said, referring to the international treaty obligations on handling nuclear fuel. Morrison added: “But let me be clear. Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability.”
China was not mentioned by any of the three leaders, but there was no doubt that the Aukus initiative was in response to China’s expansionist drive in the South China Sea and increasing advancment towards Taiwan.
“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 decades ahead,” Biden said.
Speaking from London, Johnson said the three countries were “natural allies” even though “we may be separated geographically” and said the alliance would create “a new defense partnership, driving both, jobs and prosperity”.
Pertaining to the Australian submarine-building plan, Johnson said: “This will be one of the most complex and technically demanding projects in the world, lasting decades and requiring the most advanced technology."
This agreement binds Australia to the United States and Great Britain for generations and puts an the end to the$90billion contract Australia signed with the French company Naval Group in 2016. That deal had become bogged down in cost over-runs, delays and design changes. It marks a huge setback for President Emmanuel Macron and he is pissed!
Calling American and Australian behavior “unacceptable between allies and partners,” France announced last Friday that it was recalling its ambassadors to both countries in protest over President Biden’s decision to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia.
It is the first time in the history of the long alliance between France and the United States, dating back to 1778, that a French ambassador has been recalled to Paris in this way for consultations. The decision by President Emmanuel Macron reflects the extent of French outrage at what it has a called a “brutal” American decision and a “stab in the back” from Australia.
“The world is a jungle,” the former French ambassador to Washington, Gérard Araud, observed on Twitter. “France has just been reminded this bitter truth by the way the US and the UK have stabbed her in the back in Australia. C’est la vie.”
In July, the UK’s new aircraft carrier, the Queen Elizabeth, arrived in the South China Sea, the focal point of US-Chinese tensions, triggering denunciations from Beijing. “Great Britain is very focused on the concept of global Britain, and their tilt is about engaging much more deeply with the Indo-Pacific and this is a down payment on that effort,” a senior US official said.
Nuclear power will allow Australian attack submarines to remain at sea for as long as five months and operate more quietly than the country’s existing Collins class diesel powered vessels, allowing them to better evade enemy detection.
“This has only happened once before in history, when the US helped the UK develop its first nuclear-powered submarines, said David Cullen of the Nuclear Information Service
“What’s interesting is that the US appears to have thrown the UK a bone by allowing Britain to help design and build the new Australian submarines,” Cullen said.
Meanwhile in France, Mr. Macron faces an election in seven months. With right-wing nationalists challenging him strongly, the way he responds to what is being portrayed as a serious insult will be closely watched.
Macron is certain to turn to his European partners, and particularly Germany, as he reassesses the Western alliance and Asian policy.
As the French Daily Newspaper 'Le Monde' put it, “Beyond French sensibilities, it is the place of Europe and its role in the world that have been thrust into question. Where does Europe want to stand in the global realignment happening in the shadow of the America-China confrontation?”