Australia has decided to invest in U.S.-powered submarines and to dump its contract with France for diesel-electric submarines, Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated on Thursday.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced that the United States would form a new security alliance with Australia. This alliance will allow for the development of a submarine fleet powered by nuclear weapons.
Australia informed France that it was ending its contract with DCNS, a state majority owned company, to build 12 of the largest conventional submarines in the world. Since 2016, Australia has spent $1.8 billion ($2.4 billion) on this project.
Morrison stated that Australia was not allowed to use U.S. nuclear submarine technology when the AU$56billion ($43 billion) deal was made in 2016. The technology was previously shared only by the United States and Britain.
Morrison stated that he spoke to Emanuel Macron, the French president, in June about “very real questions” regarding whether a conventional submarine capability would be able to address Australia’s security needs in the Indo-Pacific.
Morrison stated, “Ofcourse they’re disappointed.” They’ve been great partners. It’s about our strategic interests, our strategic capabilities requirements, and a changing strategic environment. We have to make that decision.
The new submarines were welcomed by the Chief of Defence Forces Australia, Gen. Angus Campbell.
Campbell stated that “our strategic environment has declined.” Campbell stated that the environment is becoming more difficult and will continue to be so in the future.
Morrison stated that Australia was still undecided about the type of submarine it would choose and didn’t know how much the fleet of nuclear submarines of at least eight would cost.
Morrison stated that Australia’s defense budget will grow beyond the 2.2% current gross domestic product.
Conventional submarines, unlike the nuclear-powered ones, must travel long distances between Australia and potential conflict zones in Asia using diesel engines. They then recharge their batteries. They are powered by their batteries.
Admiral Chris Barry is a former chief of defense forces and said that the U.S. and French versions would have comparable on-board capabilities, weapons, and sensors.
Barry stated, “But what we will get is better transit speeds as well as a greater operational endurance.”
He said that while nuclear-powered submarines are more endurance-friendly than conventional submarines, it is still limited by the patience and food supply.
According to Peter Jennings (executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think-tank), Australia’s submarine upgrade was an answer to China’s South China Sea takeover, bullying of Australia, and intimidation against Japan and Taiwan.
Jennings stated that the first submarine of this new category should be called the ‘Xi Jinping’, because Australia’s current leader is the Chinese Communist Party.
In 2027, the first Shortfin Barracuda submarines (318 feet) in length, a modified French nuclear sub design, were to be delivered.
Morrison stated that he believed the first of the nuclear subs, to be built in Adelaide, Australia, would be completed by 2040.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Foreign Minister, expressed his “total incomprehension” at the decision on France-Info radio Thursday and criticised both Australia and America.
It was a real stab in the back. Le Drian stated that we had a trust relationship with Australia and that trust was betrayed.
“I am angry today. He added that this is not something you can do between allies. “We demand explanations from both parties.”
Australia’s South Pacific neighbour, New Zealand, was left out of the alliance. It enacted laws and policies in the 1980s to make sure it remains nuclear-free. This includes a ban on nuclear powered ships entering New Zealand ports. This stance has sometimes caused it to clash with the U.S.
Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, stated Thursday that New Zealand was not asked to join the alliance and would not have expected an invitation.
Ardern stated that nuclear-powered submarines are the centerpiece and anchor of this arrangement. “And it will be quite obvious to all New Zealanders and Australia why New Zealand would refuse to be part of that project.”
Ardern stated that the alliance did not diminish the country’s close ties with the U.S. and its close ties with Australia, Canada, Britain, Australia, and Australia, which were strengthened through the Five Eyes intelligence sharing arrangement.
Morrison stated that Ardern was the first foreign leader Morrison called to explain the alliance. Later, he called leaders from India and Japan. They form the Quad security dialog with Australia, the United States, and Japan.
Morrison stated, “She was my first phone call due to the strength of our relationship” and the relationship between our two countries.” “All of the region will reap the benefits of the peace, stability, and security this partnership will bring to our region.”
Because of the deterioration in bilateral relations, the Chinese government has been unable to maintain minister-to-minister contact for a long time with Australia. Morrison stated that he is open to discussing the new alliance with President Xi Jinping.
Morrison stated that President Xi is invited to discuss these and other issues.
He said, “I believe and hope that we would share the same goal of a peaceful Indo-Pacific in which the sovereignty and independence nations are understood and respected and that allows their citizens to thrive.”
Liu Pengyu, China’s Washington, D.C. Embassy spokesperson, said that countries shouldn’t build exclusionary blocks targeting or harming third parties.
He said, “In particular they should shake off the Cold War mentality und ideological prejudice.”
Australia would be the first nation without nuclear weapons to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.
Defence Department Secretary Greg Moriarty stated that Australia would talk with the U.S. and Britain about how to dispose of submarines’ nuclear waste.