The Dallas Morning News
Allies reach deal for submarines
Pact requires U.S. to share sensitive data with U.K., Australia
SAN DIEGO — At a historic meeting in San Diego, President Joe Biden and the prime ministers of the United Kingdom and Australia announced Monday that they’re accelerating plans to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines to help the nations counter a military build-up by China in the Indo-pacific.
Australia will initially buy three U.S. Virginia-class submarines that will be armed with conventional weapons but no nuclear missiles. Contracts for two more multi-billion-dollar subs can be added at a later date.
The submarines will be built with components from all three countries and will require the U.S. to share highly sensitive technology with the U.K. and Australia, which are long-standing allies. The U.S. hasn’t made this kind of deal since it helped the U.K. with nuclear submarine development in 1958.
The U.S. and U.K. will begin placing their own subs at Australian ports on a rotating basis in 2027.
The first three of the new Australian subs will be constructed in the U.K. with the two others to follow in Australia. Construction will begin in the early 2030s because the U.K. needs to expand its industrial capacity and Australia needs to create the ability to build vessels of this magnitude.
The announcement was made as Biden arrived at Naval Base San Diego on Point Loma, where he metwith British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese — first in private and then in a very rare public joint address.
“For more than a century, our three nations have stood shoulder to shoulder, along with other allies and partners, to help sustain peace, stability, and prosperity around the world, including in the IndoPacific,” the world leaders said in a joint statement, ahead of their in-person remarks.
“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. The steps we are announcing today will help us to advance these mutually beneficial objectives in the decades to come.”
Monday’s agreement stems from the so-called AustraliaUnited Kingdom-united States, or AUKUS, pact, which was formed in late 2021.
The pact is propelled by concerns that China could, at some point, invade Taiwan, sparking a global military crisis. The allies also say that the military bases China is building on artificial islands in the South China Sea could be used to thwart trade and the movement of ships and aircraft in that part of the world.
“This is a very, very big deal,” said Tai Ming Cheung, a China expert at UC San Diego.
“The U.S. has primarily — as we’ve seen with NATO — engaged with militaries in alliances but has not historically been willing to engage in industrial partnerships and sharing the most sensitive, technological secrets.”
He added that, “The U.S. has to have a more global footprint (militarily). It needs a lot more allies to help them in the Indo-pacific.”