“Indissoluble Ties”: Nuclear Submarine Agreement Strengthens US-Australia Security Ties Against Economic Pressure from China

Australia’s decision to acquire nuclear submarine technology from the United States and the United Kingdom helps ensure that the security ties between the three powers will resist China’s economic influence.

“There are only six nations capable of deploying nuclear-powered submarines: ourselves, the other permanent members of the UN Security Council and India,” the British adviser said Thursday. National Security Stephen Lovegrove. “Australia will become the seventh, representing an important commitment to peace and stability in the region … These are profound strategic changes and collaboration on nuclear projects creates indissoluble ties around which new matrices of collaboration can be built. “

Secretary of State Antony Blinken framed the recently unveiled deal in a broader rebuke from China that foreshadows further cooperation to counter threats from Beijing.

“Our discussions today reflect how the alliance between Australia and the United States goes far beyond our military ties, however deep and important they are,” Blinken told reporters in the department. of state. “The world saw China’s aggressive response when Australia called for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19… We have made it clear that actions like these targeting our allies will hamper improving our own relations with the Chinese government. “

“PEACE IN OUR REGION”: United States reaches agreement to expand military presence in Australia

President Joe Biden’s team offered the standard assurance that the submarine’s “partnership is not intended [at] or about any country, ”but China’s growing power and brutality lurked behind numerous references to the need for heightened vigilance and military strength for the United States and its allies. The agreements set the stage for Australia to benefit from a substantial upgrade of its submarine fleet while strengthening ties between the US and Australian military to ensure close cooperation over the coming decades.

“The reason for all of this is clear: China,” British lawmaker Tom Tugendhat, who chairs the House of Commons foreign affairs committee, wrote on Twitter. “We know we need a regional power… to partner with, and the nation that most closely shares our interests and can be completely trusted is Oz.”

China immediately denounced the deal.

“Nuclear submarine cooperation between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia has seriously undermined regional peace and stability, intensified the arms race and undermined international non-proliferation efforts,” said Thursday Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. “The export of highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology to Australia by the US and UK once again proves that they are using nuclear exports as a geopolitical game tool and adopting double standards. . “

Lijian suggested the new arrangement gives neighboring states “every reason” to question whether Australia is considering obtaining nuclear weapons. However, President Joe Biden – along with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – pointed out that Canberra was purchasing nuclear propulsion for submarines, without obtaining additional nuclear technology.

“Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or establish civilian nuclear capability,” Morrison said. “And we will continue to meet all of our nuclear non-proliferation obligations. “

Tugendhat also identified the nuclear submarine deal as an asymmetric response to China’s economic coercion.

“Tonight, Beijing will have realized that the pressure on Australia has triggered a response,” he wrote. “It’s a powerful response to those who thought the United States was pulling out and the propaganda claiming Washington was not a reliable ally.”

The deal comes at the expense of France, which is outraged by the unexpected loss of its own deal to sell diesel submarines to Australia. Biden and Blinken have asserted France’s importance as an Indo-Pacific power, but the deal upsets a central part of its approach to the region. Yet Blinken also hinted that it was useful to step up the UK’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific.


“This partnership with Australia and the UK is a signal that we are determined to work with our allies and partners, including in Europe, to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he said on Thursday. . “We welcome European countries playing an important role in the Indo-Pacific. We look forward to continuing our close cooperation with NATO, the European Union and others in this endeavor. “

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