Australia is expected to finalize a Nuclear Submarine deal with the U.S. against China’s growing assertiveness in the pacific. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese revealed on Wednesday that he will soon be meeting U.S. President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday in San Diego, where the trilateral security pact AUKUS will take place.
Australia will be buying around five U.S. Virginia class nuclear-powered submarines by the 2030s as part of a landmark Pacific security pact with the United States and the United Kingdom. As of now, Australia owns a fleet of six conventionally powered Collins-class submarines whose service life will be extended to 2036.
The AUKUS announcement has become a concern for some of Australia’s regional allies like Indonesia and Malaysia, as they feel that the pact could lead to a nuclear arms race in the Indo-Pacific region.
On Thursday, Australia’s defense minister Richard Marles assured them by saying that though the submarines will be capable of operating in war, the true intent of their capability will be to provide stability and peace in their region.
According to Biden administration officials, substantial spending on the defense industrial base is now being planned. The AUKUS partnership was announced in 2021. Since then, Officials from the three countries have been working through plans to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, including legal issues in transferring classified technology and how to train Australian sailors on the submarines.
In the coming years, U.S. submarines will probably increase their visits to Australian ports before the eventual delivery of the new Australian submarines takes place.
According to sources, President Biden is likely to call for a defense budget of more than $835 billion in his 2024 fiscal budget plan. It is going to be a higher recommended defense budget in comparison to last year’s request, owing to the continuing conflict in Ukraine and rising tensions with China.
Several other steps are being planned for solidifying the cooperation between the allies. Last year Five Australian personnel were accepted into the U.S. nuclear propulsion program, while many other Australians have been accepted into the British Navy’s nuclear courses. Australian ship workers will also be coming to the U.S. for training.
The deal will make Australia the seventh nation in the world with nuclear-powered submarines and expand the need for maintenance and engineering jobs in Australia. According to the country’s navy, this will lead to the generation of more than 10,000 jobs from Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines under the defense pact.