On Monday, in San Diego, President Joe Biden, along with the Prime Ministers of Australia and the United Kingdom, made a groundbreaking announcement regarding Australia’s naval modernization. The plan involves Australia purchasing state-of-the-art nuclear-powered attack submarines from the U.S. as part of the newly formed AUKUS partnership. The move comes amidst growing concerns over China’s expanding influence in the Indo-Pacific region. Biden, Albanese, and Sunak made a joint appearance to celebrate this strategic and historic agreement.
As part of the 2021 announcement, a strategic partnership was established that grants Australia access to cutting-edge nuclear-powered submarines. These vessels are superior to conventional submarines in terms of stealth and capability, and will serve as a vital defense mechanism against China’s military expansion. President Biden was mindful of the ongoing tensions with China and their criticism of the agreement, emphasizing that the submarines are powered by nuclear energy, not armed with nuclear weapons.
During an outdoor ceremony at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego, President Biden, joined by Albanese and Sunak, confirmed that the newly purchased submarines will not carry any form of nuclear weapons. As the leaders stood side by side, the USS Missouri and the USS Charlotte could be seen moored at the pier behind them. Albanese expressed his gratitude, noting that the partnership marked the largest-ever investment in Australia’s defense capabilities. He also acknowledged the significance of the U.S. sharing its nuclear propulsion technology, which hadn’t happened in 65 years.
Describing AUKUS as “the most significant multilateral defense partnership in generations,” Sunak highlighted the U.K.’s commitment to sharing its six decades of experience in operating its submarine fleet with Australian engineers to enable them to build their own fleet. The leaders released a joint statement prior to the formal announcement, underscoring their countries’ decades-long efforts to promote peace, stability, and prosperity worldwide, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region. They reiterated their shared values of freedom, human rights, the rule of law, the sovereignty of independent nations, and the rules-based global order. The leaders expressed their conviction that the measures announced would advance these objectives in the decades ahead.
Biden began his three-day trip to California and Nevada with a visit to San Diego. During his trip, he will address the issue of gun violence prevention in Monterey Park, California, where a tragic mass shooting claimed 11 lives in January. In Las Vegas, Biden will present his plans to reduce prescription drug costs. The President’s itinerary also includes fundraising events, which reflect his increasing political involvement ahead of an anticipated reelection announcement next month.
A Democratic National Committee official stated that approximately 40 attendees are expected to attend the fundraiser in Rancho Santa Fe, California, on Monday evening. The event is expected to raise $1 million for the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, Australia’s purchase of three to five Virginia-class submarines as part of the AUKUS partnership is already underway. The future generation of submarines will be manufactured in the U.K. and Australia, utilizing cutting-edge U.S. technology and support.