U.S. approves deal to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines

March 14, 2023
Pres. Biden, PM Sunak, & PM Albanese standing at podiums at San Diego naval base; photo credit: PM Sunak Twitter

The United States could ask for no better partners in the Indo-Pacific where so much of our shared future will be written.

President Joe Biden announcing that the United States will provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines in the coming years. This marks the first time in 65 years that the U.S. has shared nuclear propulsion technology with another nation.

What To Know: President Biden appeared alongside Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego. The three have made a "landmark security deal" in which the U.S. will sell nuclear-powered attack submarines to Australia starting in the early 2030s, pending Congress' approval. The U.S. and the U.K. will share valuable knowledge with Australia pertaining to this partnership. The partnership, known as AUKUS, was announced in September 2021.

Why It Matters: The deal is intended to establish more security in the Indo-Pacific region, and thus counter China's growing influence as well as gain more of a presence near North Korea and Russia. However, Pres. Biden emphasized that "These boats will not have any nuclear weapons of any kind on them," rather they are nuclear-powered.

  • Why Submarines? Nuclear-powered submarines are more difficult to detect and stay underwater longer than conventional submarines. With the help of the U.S., the deal will enable the U.K and Australia to eventually build their own boats with advanced technology.
  • China's Response: China's Foreign Ministry said that the U.S., the U.K. and Australia are traveling “further down the wrong and dangerous path for their own geopolitical self-interest." A spokesperson for China said the arrangement "will only motivate an arms race, damage the international nuclear nonproliferation regime, and harm regional stability and peace.”
  • Meanwhile, Taiwan reported on Tuesday that its domestic submarine program is "going according to plan," despite facing difficulties. Taiwan is unable to buy conventional submarines from other nations due to concerns over possibly angering China (which considers Taiwan part of its territory).

Biden announces nuclear-powered submarines for Australia (The Associated Press)

Biden announces Australian nuclear-powered submarine deal to counter China’s growing influence (USA Today)

by Jenna Lee,