Australia May Lease Submarines From UK Or US Initially, But Nuclear Weapons Still Banned | Aukus
Short-term rental of nuclear-powered submarines from the UK or US is being considered by the Morrison government, but the Coalition insists the nuclear weapons will not be based in Australia.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham and Defense Minister Peter Dutton confirmed in separate talks on Sunday that leasing submarines to Aukus allies could be an interim solution until Australia take delivery of its own – potentially in the 2040s.
“The short answer is yes,” Dutton said when asked about ship leasing on Sky News.
Birmingham said the rental agreements would not necessarily increase “the number of submarines and capacity in all partner countries” but would help with training and information sharing.
“It could provide us with opportunities to train our seafarers, to provide the skills and knowledge necessary for our operation,” he told the ABC.
” [It would help] provide us with the platforms to upgrade the infrastructure in Perth, which will be necessary for the operation of these submarines. I think we’ll see … rental arrangements or larger joint operations between our navies in the future that will see our sailors working more closely and in fact, potentially on British and American ships to acquire these skills, training and skills. knowledge.
Birmingham insisted that there was no “counterpart” in Australia by agreeing to intensify its strategic relations with the United Kingdom and the United States.
He insisted that nuclear weapons would not be based on Australian jurisdiction.
“We have been clear, Australia’s position on nuclear weapons is not, will not change,” he said on Sunday.
“We will abide by all of our non-proliferation treaty agreements and obligations and will not change any of our policies regarding nuclear weapon technology. “
Birmingham has not ruled out an increase in the number of British and American uniforms on Australian coasts.
“We already have US troops and navies sometimes working in Australia on rotational deployments,” he said.
“We are already conducting tightly integrated operations alongside our US partner as we do with a number of other countries and we are always looking to explore where they can be improved and it is in Australia’s national interest to do it.”
Birmingham said Australia had informed the French government “as soon as possible” of plans to cancel a submarine deal with the French, prompting Paris to recall its ambassadors from Canberra and Washington.
Birmingham said the French had been told the $ 90 billion submarine deal was canceled “before it was made public.” France said it was kept in the dark.
Birmingham said changes, not only in technology but also in the region, had made a new deal necessary.
“Before that, we engaged with the French in terms of the changes we have seen in our region,” he said.
“Changes in the strategic nature of competition in the region. The changes to the operational capability challenges of conventionally powered submarines and the reasons why we have looked at the nuclear powered submarines alternative are due to these different changes.
“It was very sensitive to get to this point in time. We do not underestimate the importance of working with the French in the future around their engagement in the region and of ensuring to re-establish these strong links with the French government and our counterparts in the future. Because their continued engagement in this region is important, alongside these decisions that we have taken.
But it was not just the French who were worried about the Aukus arrangement, which has yet to be worked out in detail. Australia’s allies in the Indo-Pacific have also raised concerns about what the deal will mean for tensions in the region.
Malaysia said on Saturday that Canberra’s decision to build atomic-powered submarines could spark a regional nuclear arms race, echoing concerns already raised by Beijing.
“This will prompt other powers to act more aggressively in the region as well, especially in the South China Sea,” the Malaysian prime minister’s office said, without mentioning China.
Beijing’s foreign policy in the region has become increasingly assertive, particularly its maritime claims in the resource-rich South China Sea, some of which conflict with Malaysia’s own claims.