Reuters: Australian nuclear fleet aspirations have surfaced.March 10
(RT) ⸻ Australia could procure up to five US nuclear-powered submarines as part of the AUKUS security pact with Washington and London, Reuters reported on Wednesday. The report comes ahead of a meeting between US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in San Diego early next week to discuss the next steps in the partnership. According to four US officials interviewed by Reuters, in the early 2030s Australia would purchase three Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines and have the option to buy two more. The AUKUS agreement would consist of several stages spanning into the late 2030s, and would see at least one US submarine visit Australian ports in the coming years. Another key element of the deal would be the development of a new unidentified submarine class according to British designs, but with the use of American tech. Beijing has repeatedly criticized the pact, arguing that it involves the "illegal transfer of nuclear weapon materials, making it essentially an act of nuclear proliferation." However, China is not the only country unhappy about AUKUS, as Australia scrapped a multibillion-dollar order for French submarines, leaving Paris furious.Relations between the two countries frayed to the point that ex-French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described Canberra's decision as a "stab in the back," while French President Emmanuel Macron accused former Australian PM Scott Morrison of lying.
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