The U.S. will sell three to five nuclear-powered submarines to Australia beginning in the early 2030s, President Joe Biden announced on Monday, prompting China to respond with a direct warning to America and its allies.
Biden made the announcement as part of the AUKUS Partnership alongside British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego. The deal marks the first time since 1959 that the U.S. will share nuclear submarine technology with an ally, Fox News reported.
“Our unprecedented trilateral cooperation … is testament to the strength of the longstanding ties that unite us and to our shared commitment of ensuring the Indo-Pacific remains free and open, prosperous and secure, defined by opportunity for all — a shared commitment to create a future rooted in our common values,” Biden said.
The president clarified that the submarines going to Australia would be “nuclear-powered, not nuclear-armed.” China, nevertheless, blasted the three countries, arguing that the deal could violate the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
“The latest joint statement issued by the U.S., U.K., and Australia shows that the three countries have gone further down the wrong and dangerous path for their own geopolitical self-interest, completely ignoring the concerns of the international community,” China spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Tuesday.
As part of the deal, the U.S. and the United Kingdom will send subs to Australian ports for Australian sailors to learn American and British nuclear-propulsion technology, according to POLITICO. After Australian sailors have learned the technology, the country will purchase three nuclear-powered submarines from the U.S. with the option to buy two more.
The submarines will vastly improve Australia’s naval capabilities in the coming years as its adversary in Beijing threatens expansion and influence into Taiwan and beyond. Prime Minister Albanese said the plan “is a genuine trilateral undertaking. All three nations stand ready to contribute and all three nations stand ready to benefit.”
During his address on Monday, Biden said that China would not view the deal as aggression and promised he would discuss the plan with Chinese President Xi Jinping soon.