Australia will buy as many as five US nuclear-powered submarines and later build a new model with US and British technology under an ambitious plan to beef up Western muscle across the Asia-Pacific in the face of a rising China, a US official said Monday.
President Joe Biden was hosting his Australian and British counterparts, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, on a US naval base in San Diego, California, to announce the plan.
Australia, which joined the newly formed AUKUS group with Washington and London 18 months ago, will not be getting nuclear weapons. However, with nuclear propulsion, the new submarine fleet will add substantial new strength to the Western alliance seeking to push back against China’s own military expansion.
Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, told reporters flying on Air Force One to California that the submarine plan illustrated Washington’s long-term commitment to guarding “peace …