Australia says nuclear sub-plan on track for unveiling in early 2023

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Australia is on track to make an announcement « in the first part of next year » on its path to acquiring nuclear-powered submarines as part of its project with the United States and the UK, said Defense Minister Richard Marles.

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« You don’t build a nuclear-powered submarine quickly, and so the question of when we might have the first submarine in the water is very relevant to us, » Marles told a conference on Saturday. joint press with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin after talks in Honolulu.

Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States announced a security agreement known as AUKUS on September 15, 2021, pledging to cooperate more closely on defense and research. As part of the deal, the United States and the United Kingdom have agreed to work with Australia to help build and maintain a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, expanding the military reach of the Australia in the Asia-Pacific region.

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« It was great with Secretary Austin affirming the progress there, » Marles said.

While extending the life of its existing non-nuclear submarines, Australia is seeking to « minimize and close any capability gaps », Marles said. The announcement will involve a timetable for the arrival of the nuclear-powered models and how to fill any capacity gaps, he said.

Austin renewed US warnings about China’s growing role, citing « a growing challenge from autocratic countries » in the region and around the world.

« We are deeply concerned about China’s aggressive, escalating and destabilizing military activities in the Taiwan Strait and elsewhere in the region, » he said.

Marles said China is seeking to « shape the world around it in ways we’ve never seen before, » posing a challenge for countries seeking « to maintain the rules-based global order. « , including freedom of the seas.

The AUKUS deal has been criticized by some of Australia’s neighbours, with China in particular raising concerns with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Beijing has argued that the deal to give Australia nuclear submarine technology violates international non-proliferation treaties.

After IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi expressed satisfaction with the commitment of AUKUS partners so far, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning accused the agency to turn a blind eye to international concerns.


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