• Canberra is expected to have them by the mid-2030s.

The Joe Biden Administration is exploring an agreement to produce in the US the first nuclear submarines for the Australian Armed Forces, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing Western officials.

The initiative seeks to provide Canberra with an initial nuclear-powered fleet, which can spend more time underwater, by the mid-2030s in order to respond to China’s growing military might in the Indo-Pacific region.

Likewise, Washington hopes that in the long term Australia will be able to build nuclear submarines at its own facilities. However, he recognizes that production in the North American country may face a series of difficulties, mainly financial.

In this context, the AUKUS trilateral cooperation, established in September 2021 by the US, the United Kingdom and Australia, foresees that Washington will help Canberra with the necessary technologies to equip itself with nuclear-powered submarines. Australia expects to receive up to eight nuclear-powered submersibles, while insisting on its commitment to nuclear non-proliferation, as it does not plan to possess such weapons.

Controversial deals

For his part, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Vienna, Wang Quna, accused AUKUS last week of carrying out risky transfers of nuclear materials within the framework of the alliance.

The senior diplomat assured that the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decided to establish, at the request of China, a formal item on the agenda on “transfer of nuclear materials in the context of AUKUS and its safeguards in all aspects under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons”.

Wang Qun stressed that “AUKUS goes beyond the existing international non-proliferation regime and the mandate of the IAEA Secretariat.” “The issue should not be dealt with by the three countries alone and should be dealt with by the IAEA member states,” he added.

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