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Australia 'confident' on US nuclear submarines deal

July 28, 2023

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he believed he could secure bipartisan political backing in the US for a deal to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Australian PM Anthony Albanese and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin with other officials pose for a photo
Top Australian and US officials met on Friday to discuss the submarines dealImage: Pat Hoelscher/AP Photo/picture alliance

Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Friday he was positive that a US deal to deliver nuclear powered submarines to Australia was on track. 

"I am very confident and spoke with their Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last night," said Albanese to the media. 

Austin and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken are in the northeastern Austalian state of Queensland for the annual Australia-US Ministerial Meeting (AUSMIN) dialogue , focusing on the progress of the submarine deal, regional security and clean energy. 

US, UK, Australia reveal nuclear-powered submarine deal

Republicans oppose submarine sale 

The AUKUS pact, first announced in 2021, is a security alliance between Australia, the US and the UK. 

As per the deal, the US is expected to sell three US Virginia class nuclear-powered submarines to Australia.

Blinken and Austin are discussing the deal with Albanese and other Australian officials on Friday and Saturday. 

Meanwhile, 25 US Republican lawmakers wrote to the US President Joe Bidenthat the submarine sale to Australia would "unacceptably weaken" the US fleet as there is no clear plan to replace them. 

Despite this, Albanese expressed confidence about the deal because of the discussions he had with Republicans and Democrats during the NATO summit in Lithuania earlier this month

He said he was struck by their unanimous support for the US-Australia relationship, which he said has "never been stronger." 

AUKUS deal: China warns against "path of error and danger"

Australia to invest in AUKUS deal 

As part of the AUKUS deal, Australia has agreed to invest $3 billion (​​€2.7 billion) in the US submarine industrial base. 

"There is pressure on the American industrial base. We've well understood that. That's why we'll be making a contribution to it," said Australia's Defense Minister Richard Marles in an interview to Sky television on Friday. 

He added that the deal is advantageous to all three parties because Australia will develop an industrial base that will add to the net capability of all three countries. 

The AUKUS deal is expected to cost Australia up to $2 billion (​​€ 1.8 billion) over a period of 30 years.

Security allies to discuss China amid tensions 

Australia is currently reshaping its defense forces in response to China's military build up and plans to boost its long range strike capabilities and domestic missile production. 

The US and Australia will also discuss China's security ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region at the AUSMIN summit. 

Lloyd Austin said that both Australia and the US were worried about China's attempts to depart from international law. He added that Washington will defend its allies against China's "bullying behavior" in the Pacific. 

Ahead of the meeting with Austin, Australia's Defense Minister Marles emphasized that this is the time to be working with allies and "Australia has no better friend than the United States of America."

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong also told the media that the US is "indispensable to the balance in the region."

ns/fb (AP, Reuters)