UK, US and Australia Announce New Defence Pact Amid Growing China Concerns
Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison have revealed a new security pact, which will allow the countries to share nuclear submarine secrets at a time of growing concern over China.
In unprecedented on-camera address from the three world leaders at 10pm today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said "We're opening a new chapter in our friendship."
The tri-lateral pact, to be known as AUKUS, will involve the US and UK helping Australia develop and maintain a nuclear submarine capability and is being seen as an attempt to counter potential regional influence by China.
Biden told the press conference that the Australian submarines were not armed with nuclear weapons – but were nuclear powered, meaning they would be quieter, and more effective.
The arrangement raises questions over the country’s current deal with France, signed in 2016, where a French naval contactor won a bid to build their next generation of submarines. This was the country’s largest ever defence procurement.
The new partnership will also enable them to share information about long-range strike capacilities, and according to news website Politico a White House official said AUKUS could also help with information sharing on artificial intelligence, cyber and underwater systems.
It is also well-known that Beijing has a growing missile arsenal at its disposal and has been trying to assert its dominance in the Indo-Pacific.
Johnson told the press conference: "Only a handful of countries possess nuclear-powered submarines, and it is a momentuous decision for a country to acquire this country... but Australia is one of our closest friends."
A government statement said the UK would "bring deep expertise and experience to the project through, for example, the work carried out by Rolls Royce near Derby and BAE Systems in Barrow."
It went on: "The design and build process will create hundreds of highly-skilled scientific and engineering roles across the UK, and drive investment in some of our most high-tech sectors."
In a joint statement, the leaders said: "For more than 70 years, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, have worked together, along with other important allies and partners, to protect our shared values and promote security and prosperity. Today, with the formation of AUKUS, we recommit ourselves to this vision."
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