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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Australia to purchase five US nuclear subs as part of new pact

Australia will be purchasing five US nuclear-powered submarines and will later work on building a new model with British and US technology as part of an ambitious plan, said a US official on Monday.   

US President Joe Biden was hosting his British and Australian counterparts, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, on a US naval base in San Diego, California for announcing the plan. 

Australia, which became a part of the newly formed AUKUS group with London and Washington 18 months ago, will not be receiving nuclear weapons.  

However the new submarine fleet, with nuclear propulsion, will add substantial new strength to the Western alliance which is trying to push back against the military expansion of China. 

National security advisor of Biden, Jake Sullivan, said that the submarine plan illustrated on the long-term commitment of Washington to guard “peace and stability” in the Asia-Pacific region.

US’ partnership with Australia, which includes exchanging secret nuclear technology which was previously shared only given to Britain, is “a decades-long, maybe a century-long commitment,” said Sullivan. 

Three nuclear-powered, conventionally armed Virginia class vessels will be sold “over the course of the 2030s,” with the “possibility of going up to five if that is needed,” Sullivan added.  

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The new model, which is nuclear-powered and carries conventional weapons, is a long-term project and will be dubbed the SSN-AUKUS, he stated.

It will be constructed using the US technology and with the base of a British design, and “significant investments in all three industrial bases,” said Sullivan.  

(With inputs from agencies)

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