Sydney, Australia, Mar 9 (EFE).- The Australian government confirmed Thursday that it is to announce the details of its acquisition of nuclear submarines under the AUKUS security pact with the United States and the United Kingdom.
The “optimal pathway” by which Australia will acquire the submarines will be revealed “very shortly,” Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Richard Marles said in parliament.
“This will bring to a conclusion the 18-month process under the banner of AUKUS which was commenced by the former government,” Marles said.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed that he will meet with AUKUS partners US President Joe Biden and Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in San Diego on Monday.
“I’ll be making further comments about specific proposals at the appropriate time,” said Albanese, who is on a tour of India until Saturday. “I look forward to announcing those details. They will be announced in the appropriate way on Monday, US time, in San Diego.”
AUKUS (an acronym for the three member countries) is the security pact signed by Canberra, London and Washington in September 2022, and included the purchase of nuclear-powered submarines for Australia as part of efforts to counter Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
“These submarines will have the capability to operate at war, but the true intent of this capability is to provide for the stability and for the peace of our region, for the Pacific, for Southeast Asia, for the Indian Ocean, for the broader Indo-Pacific region,” Marles said.
But neither Marles nor Albanese have given details about the acquisitions so far.
There has been much speculation by experts and the media about the construction of these watercrafts, which would make Australia the seventh country with the capacity to operate a nuclear-powered submarine, at a cost of around A$100 billion ($65.88 billion).
The Australian newspaper reported Thursday that leaks from both sides of the Atlantic suggest Australia will buy both US and British-designed submarines.
Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported that Australia will first acquire up to five American Virginia-class nuclear submarines, and in the long term will add submersibles based on a new British design which, according to the Australian public broadcaster ABC, will be assembled in the Oceanian country and will include American technology.
The acquisition of nuclear submarines for Australia involved the cancellation of a multi-billion-dollar contract with the French Naval Group for the development of conventional submarines, causing tensions between Canberra and Paris and a compensation payment of A$830 million (nearly $550 million). EFE