Australian PM says he will meet Biden in US, submarine deal awaited

sydney: Australia’s prime minister said on Wednesday he would soon meet with President Joe Biden in the United States, where a massive nuclear submarine deal is expected to be unveiled.

After 18 months of deliberations, Australia is expected to announce plans to procure eight nuclear submarines in what Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has described as “the biggest leap” in defense capability in the country’s history.

“I will be meeting with President Biden in the United States. We will soon have further announcements about details of the agreements that will take place,” Albanese said.

Over the last year and a half, extensive behind-the-scenes talks have taken place between Washington, Canberra and London about Australia receiving sensitive nuclear propulsion technologies.

Australia has ruled out acquiring nuclear weapons.

It is the first time that US-derived submarine technology has been exported since the 1960s, when the United States helped Britain develop its own submarines.

The submarine contract is worth tens of billions of dollars, but experts say its significance goes beyond job creation and promised investments.

Nuclear-powered submarines are difficult to detect, can travel great distances for long periods of time, and are expected to be armed with sophisticated cruise missiles.

That, experts say, makes it a formidable deterrent to any potential enemy – allowing Australia to launch strikes or counter-strike deep into enemy territory without warning.

Beijing has firmly opposed the project, deeming it “dangerous” and aimed at cornering China.

The deal comes under the auspices of AUKUS – a fledgling group comprising Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States that aims to share advanced military and other technologies.

But big questions still hang over the project, whether Australia will buy US or British submarines, where they will be built and when they will be in the water.

“The AUKUS partnership aims to equip Australia with conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarines at the earliest possible date,” a Pentagon spokesman told AFP ahead of Albanese’s announcement.

“Strengthening our deterrence means strengthening all of our industrial bases, expanding our collective capabilities, and sharing technology like never before. –AFP Australian PM says he will meet Biden in US, submarine deal awaited

Russell Falcon

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