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New trilateral alliance to get Australia nuclear submarines

New trilateral alliance to get Australia nuclear submarines

The US President Joe Biden announced a trilateral security alliance called AUKUS with the United Kingdom and Australia in an apparent attempt to counter China. The Australian military will be getting a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines as part of the deal.

The announcement clarified that the submarines are going to be nuclear powered, but will not be carrying nuclear weapons, reported Al Jazeera.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and US President Joe Biden called the new alliance a "historic step" in the video announcement. However, the three leaders did not mention China explicitly in their statements.

Biden said that we all recognise the imperative of ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific over the long term. Australia is a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Biden said that they need to be able to address both the current strategic environment in the region and how it may evolve. He added that the world depends on a free and open Indo-Pacific, enduring and flourishing in the decades ahead.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that the new security alliance was an "extremely irresponsible" threat to regional stability. He told the media that the three nations are "severely damaging regional peace and stability, intensifying an arms race, and damaging international nuclear non-proliferation efforts."

A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington said that the three countries should "shake off their Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice".

China has built artificial islets in the South China Sea to set up military outposts. Taiwan Strait has also been seeing incursions by the Chinese military almost every day. The US and Australia have already stepped defence ties as part of the quad, which includes India and Japan.

Australian PM Morrison said that the new alliance will deliver a safer and more secure region" and ultimately benefit all. He added that Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability. He clarified that the nation would continue to meet all nuclear non-proliferation obligations.

Sam Roggeveen, the director of the Sydney-based Lowy Institute's international security programme, said that it is impossible to read the new alliance as anything other than a response to China's rise. He added that it shows that the United States is prepared to take significant new steps and break with old norms to meet the China challenge, reported Al Jazeera.

Australia has also had disputes with China over the pandemic. Tom Tugendhat, a legislator with the UK's ruling Conservative party who chairs parliament's foreign affairs committee, tweeted that Australia did not have a choice after years of bullying and trade hostility by China.

France has expressed regret at the new alliance. Australia had signed a multi-billion dollar contract to buy French diesel-powered submarines in 2016.

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TAGS:Nuclear weaponsAustraliaChina
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