The Australian people did an “incredible job” to “get onboard” with nuclear submarines for the country as they “didn’t even blink” at the idea, says Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce. His comments come as Australia is set to buy five US Virginia-class nuclear submarines under the AUKUS deal promoted by its “grand architect” former prime minister Scott Morrison. “If we want to protect this nation we have to really take a reality pill,” Mr Joyce told Sky News host Andrew Bolt. “This nuclear submarine process is part of that reality pill – but there are lots of other things we need to do to make ourselves as strong as possible, as quickly as possible.
Beijing has firmly opposed reports that Australia will acquire submarines from the United States to modernise its fleet, warning that it will hurt peace and stability in region.
Australia will purchase nuclear-powered submarines as part of its AUKUS trilateral security partnership with the United States and United Kingdom.
Although the government has not confirmed the announcement, it is understood Australia will receive up to five Virginia-class submarines to plug capability gaps.
By the mid-2030s, Australia is expected to buy at least three of the vessels, with the deal including an option to buy another two.
In a press conference Beijing’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said the AUKUS partnership poses serious “nuclear proliferation risks” to the Asia-Pacific region.
“China has made clear its strong position on nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia on multiple occasions,” she said.
“This trilateral cooperation constitutes serious nuclear proliferation risks, undermines the international non-proliferation system, exacerbates arms race and hurts peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific.
“It has been widely questioned and opposed by regional countries and the wider international community.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is set to meet with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and US President Joe Biden on Monday in California to reveal the design.
One submarine is set to visit Australian ports within the next few years.
Two officials who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity said the US would then deploy some submarines and crew to Western Australia by 2027.
The reports come during a period of heightened tensions in the region, particularly when it comes to the territorial sovereignty of Taiwan.
Beijing’s attitude towards the self-governing island of 23 million people has become more hostile in recent months through increased military activity in the region and more aggressive rhetoric.
President Xi Jinping has maintained that Taiwan is an internal affair, adding and that anyone seeking to cause a wedge “will be violating the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation”.
China raised concerns earlier this week ahead of a likely meeting between US Kevin McCarthy and Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen.
Speaking on Thursday, Mao Ning again called for the AUKUS members to “abandon the Cold War mentality” and promote peace in the region.
“We urge the US, the UK and Australia to abandon the Cold War mentality and zero-sum games, honour international obligations in good faith and do more things that are conducive to regional peace and stability,” she added.
The AUKUS partnership with the US and UK was signed back in September 2021 in a bid to secure and stabilise the Indo-Pacific region amid heightened tensions.
Source: Sky News