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Australia to spend $3B for nuclear-powered submarines

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Under trilateral AUKUS deal, Australia to get Virginia-class and SSN nuclear-powered submarines from US and UK.

Under the AUKUS pact with the US and Britain, Australia will pay UK defense firms around $3 billion for design work on nuclear-powered submarines.

The contributions will also help “expand a Rolls-Royce plant that builds the nuclear reactors that will eventually be installed into the submarines,” Australia’s ABC News reported.

The defense and foreign ministers of Australia and the UK visited Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide on Friday as the deal was sealed.

Writing on X, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Canberra’s AUKUS build partners will be British-based aerospace and defense giant BAE and ASC, the Australian government’s sovereign submarine partner.

It was in 2021 that the US, UK, and Australia announced the AUKUS trilateral defense deal under which Canberra will get Virginia-class and SSN nuclear-powered submarines through the 2030s and 2040s from the US and Britain.

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles said AUKUS is “building Australia’s industrial capacity and growing our workforce.”

“Today’s announcement of our Sovereign Submarine Build and Sustainment Partners is a momentous step in delivering Australia’s conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines,” Marles said on X.

Enhanced cooperation, domestic opposition

The two sides also signed a renewed defense and security cooperation pact on Thursday.

Under the renewed terms, it will be easier for the two sides to operate their forces in each other’s countries besides supporting their “shared commitment to global and regional security.”

In a joint statement released after their meeting in Adelaide, the officials reaffirmed their commitment to “upholding the highest non-proliferation standards.”

The statement said the two sides “welcomed progress on cooperation on advanced military technologies including steps to remove barriers to the free and seamless exchange of defense goods and technologies between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.”

China has sharply criticized AUKUS, but British Defense Chief Grant Shapps defended the trilateral defense pact.

“Nuclear-powered submarines are not cheap, but we live in a much more dangerous world where we are seeing a much more assertive region with China, a much more dangerous world all around with what’s happening in the Middle East and Europe,” he said.

There has also been domestic opposition to Australia spending billions of dollars through the US and UK under the trilateral pact.

Australian Greens Senator David Shoebridge, a vocal critique of the AUKUS deal, said: “The UK could never afford their next generation of nuclear subs without finding a sucker like Australia to chip in billions and billions to subsidize it.”

David also said the government of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has introduced legislation in parliament “allowing” the UK “to dump their waste in Australia,” calling the move “unbelievable.”​​​​​​​

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