Biden announces security pact that would deliver nuclear submarines to Australia

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Wednesday evening announced a security partnership with Australia and the United Kingdom as the administration steps up efforts to counter China’s rise to power.

One of the first US steps under the deal will be to help Australia buy nuclear submarines, which offer more stealth capabilities, speed and range than traditional submarines, a- he declared. Only a handful of countries, including China and Russia, have nuclear-powered submarines.

“This initiative is about ensuring that each of us has the most modern capabilities we need to maneuver and defend against rapidly evolving threats,” Biden said.

A senior administration official called the pact “historic” and said it would strengthen cooperation between the three countries on military defense, cyber threats and supply chain security in the Indo region. peaceful. Officials said the move did not target any country, but Biden has named China as one of the biggest national security threats the United States faces.

“The United States, Australia and the United Kingdom have long been loyal and capable partners and we are even closer today,” said Biden. “Today, we are taking another historic step to deepen and formalize cooperation between our three nations because all of us recognize the imperative to ensure long-term peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Biden was joined virtually on Wednesday by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a lengthy phone conversation last week, their first call in at least seven months, in what the White House described as a “frank” conversation to discuss the “responsibility of the two nations. to ensure that the competition does not deviate. in conflict “between the two most powerful nations of the world”.

Xi told Biden that the US policy towards China has caused serious difficulties for relations between the two countries, according to a reading of the appeal published by Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency. He said China and the United States should strive to get their relations back on track, and the two countries have agreed to maintain frequent contact and task their work teams to intensify communications.

The world’s two largest economies are at odds on a variety of issues including trade, human rights and cybersecurity, with tensions exacerbated by anti-China rhetoric from the administration of former President Donald Trump.

Biden said the United States will work with Australia over the next 18 months to determine every element of the nuclear submarine acquisition process, including the safe production and use of the submarines. Submarines are powered by a nuclear reactor and do not have the capacity to fire nuclear weapons.

“Only a handful of countries have nuclear powered submarines, and it is a momentous decision for any nation to acquire this formidable capability,” Johnson said.

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