The much contested AUKUS alliance comes to life. Australia officially embarked on a program on Monday to equip itself with nuclear-powered submarines as part of a new defense alliance with Britain and the United States. Defense Minister Peter Dutton signed an agreement with British and American diplomats authorizing the exchange of “information on naval nuclear propulsion” between their countries.
This is the first agreement signed and made public since the announcement in September by the three countries of their new defense alliance, called AUKUS, to deal with growing strategic tensions between the United States and China in the Pacific.
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This alliance was accompanied by the cancellation by Australia of a mega-contract for the purchase of twelve French submarines with conventional propulsion for a value of 90 billion Australian dollars (55 billion euros), causing a lasting quarrel between Paris and Canberra.
An alliance that irritates China
“The agreement will allow cooperation that will further improve our position of mutual defense,” said US President Joe Biden on Friday in a statement ahead of the signing ceremony on Monday in the presence of Peter Dutton, US Chargé d’Affaires Michael Goldman and the British High Commissioner to Australia Victoria Treadell.
Under the AUKUS deal, Australia is to acquire eight state-of-the-art nuclear-powered submarines capable of long-range stealth missions. It also provides for the sharing of unspecified cybernetic, artificial intelligence, quantum and underwater capabilities.
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The alliance angered China, which describes it as an “extremely irresponsible” threat to the stability of the region.