The British PM has hailed a pact between the UK, Australia and the US, which will see Canberra take delivery of nuclear-powered subs, stating the deal will help safeguard peace and security in the Indo-Pacific for years to come.
Speaking to parliament on Thursday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the house that the UK and Australia are as closely aligned as any two countries in the world. “The UK and Australia defend the same interests, promote the same values, and face the same threats,” Johnson stated.
Addressing the AUKUS (Australia, UK & US) pact, announced on Wednesday night by the leaders of the three nations, Johnson hailed the move to arm Australia with nuclear-powered, conventionally armed submarines.
Australia’s future possession of this capability will help to safeguard the peace and security of the Indo-Pacific.
“Nuclear submarines are the capital ships of our age, propelled by an effectively inexhaustible source of energy,” Johnson stated, adding that their capabilities would allow Australia to silently patrol vast expanses of the ocean while “gathering intelligence, deterring adversaries and guarding the trade routes.”
The prime minister contended that bringing another nation into the small cadre of militaries which operate nuclear-power submarines was “a decision of the utmost gravity, requiring perhaps the closest relationship of trust that can exist between sovereign states.”
Johnson contended that he had “no hesitation about trusting Australia, a fellow maritime democracy” in granting Canberra the use of this technology, which has been used in the UK and the US for decades.
The submarine deal, announced as part of the AUKUS pact on Wednesday night, came at the expense of Paris and French shipmaker Naval Group, who had previously signed a deal with Canberra in 2016 for the delivery of 12 cutting-edge diesel-electric submarines to replace its more than two-decades-old Collins submarines.
The French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has registered his “anger and bitterness” over the AUKUS deal. “This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr Trump used to do,” Le Drian told franceinfo radio.
Focusing on Australia, which had confirmed its commitment to the 2016 deal with Paris just two weeks ago, he said, “it’s a stab in the back. We created a relationship of trust with Australia and that trust has been broken.” The scrapped deal was reportedly worth $40 billion.
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