President Joe Biden revealed on Monday that the United States would begin selling three to five nuclear-powered submarines to Australia in the early 2030s. This prompted China to issue a stern warning to the United States and its allies.
At Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego, Biden made the declaration as a part of the AUKUS Partnership alongside the prime ministers of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, and Australia, Anthony Albanese. According to Fox News, the agreement is the first time the United States will transfer nuclear submarine technology with an ally since 1959.
Biden stated “Our unprecedented trilateral cooperation is testament to the strength of the longstanding ties that unite us and to our shared commitment of ensuring the Indo-Pacific remains free and open, prosperous and secure, defined by opportunity for all — a shared commitment to create a future rooted in our common values.”
Notwithstanding the president’s clarification that the submarines heading to Australia would be nuclear-powered, not nuclear-armed. China criticized the three nations, claiming that the agreement might be in violation of the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
On Tuesday China spokesperson Wang Wenbin said “The latest joint statement issued by the U.S., U.K., and Australia shows that the three countries have gone further down the wrong and dangerous path for their own geopolitical self-interest, completely ignoring the concerns of the international community.”
As part of the agreement, the United States and the United Kingdom would send submarines to Australian ports so that Australian sailors may learn about American and British nuclear-propulsion technologies. Australia will buy three nuclear-powered submarines from the US with the choice of acquiring two more once its sailors have mastered the technology.
Since Australia’s opponent in Beijing threatens to expand and influence into Taiwan and beyond, the submarines will significantly strengthen Australia’s naval capabilities in the years to come. The initiative “is a genuine trilateral undertaking. All three nations stand ready to contribute and all three nations stand ready to benefit.”
Biden assured the audience in his speech on Monday that China would not consider the agreement as an act of hostility and that he would immediately examine the proposal with Chinese President Xi Jinping.