Shepparton News

Nuclear subs on way

AUSTRALIA SIGNS AUKUS PACT WITH US, UK AFTER $90B FRENCH DEAL TORPEDOED

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CANBERRA: Australia’s first nuclear-powered submarines could be in the water before 2040 under a historic partnershi­p with the United States and United Kingdom.

A $90 billion deal with French company Naval Group has been torpedoed, with Australia switching to at least eight moreexpens­ive boats using nuclear propulsion.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison hailed the new AUKUS pact as a ‘‘forever partnershi­p’’ which would be the most important alliance since the 70-year-old ANZUS treaty.

Defence spending will be increased to fund the submarines and boost Australia’s long-range strike capability including Hawk and Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The nuclear submarines with unlimited range will not require reactors in Australia, with sealed modules for the vessels to be sent from the UK or US.

They do not require refuelling with the nuclear system lasting the life of the submarines, which are faster, have greater stealth and more carrying capacity than convention­al boats.

An 18-month consultati­on period will determine workforce and training requiremen­ts, production timelines and safeguards on nuclear nonprolife­ration agreements.

Constructi­on is expected to start before the end of this decade. Australia will become the first nation without nuclear weapons to acquire the submarines.

Mr Morrison said no civil nuclear capability would be needed in Australia.

‘‘This is not about acquiring nuclear weapons,’’ he told reporters in Canberra yesterday.

‘‘Australia has no interest in that. No plans for it, no policy for it, no contemplat­ion of it. It’s not on our agenda.’’

China’s ambassador to Australia was briefed about the AUKUS pact and the Mr Morrison said there was an open invitation to the country’s President Xi Jinping for a discussion.

China’s Washington embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu said countries should shake off their ‘‘Cold War mentality’’ and ideologica­l prejudice.

Mr Morrison confirmed Australia spent $2.4 billion on the scrapped French submarine deal for 12 Attack-class submarines.

‘‘Of course they’re disappoint­ed,’’ he said.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said Labor would support nuclear-powered submarines if there was no domestic nuclear industry. No nuclear weapons and being compatible with the nonprolife­ration treaty were his other sticking points.

South Australia has secured the maintenanc­e and upgrade — known as full-cycle docking — of Australia’s f leet of Collins-class submarines beyond 2026.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the AUKUS pact aimed to preserve peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

US President Joe Biden said it was a historic step to deepen cooperatio­n between the nations.

 ?? Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas ?? New deal: Chief of the Australian Defence Force General Angus Campbell and Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a press conference in Canberra yesterday.
Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas New deal: Chief of the Australian Defence Force General Angus Campbell and Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a press conference in Canberra yesterday.

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