The US, UK and Australia have unveiled details of their plan to create a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, aimed at countering China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region, the BBC reports.
Under the Aukus pact Australia is to get its first nuclear-powered subs – at least three – from the US.
The allies will also work to create a new fleet using cutting-edge tech, including UK-made Rolls-Royce reactors.
Beijing said the major naval deal “hurts peace and stability”.
China’s UN mission also accused the Western allies of setting back nuclear non-proliferation efforts.
But US President Joe Biden said the deal was aimed at bolstering peace in the region and stressed the submarines would be “nuclear-powered, not nuclear-armed”.
Speaking alongside the UK and Australian prime ministers – Rishi Sunak and Anthony Albanese – in San Diego, California, Mr Biden said the deal would not jeopardise Australia’s commitment to being a nuclear-free country.
For Australia, it is a major upgrade to the US ally’s military capabilities. The country becomes just the second after the UK to receive Washington’s elite nuclear propulsion technology.
The submarines will be able to operate further and faster than the country’s existing diesel-engine fleet and Australia will also be able to carry out long-range strikes against enemies for the first time.
Under the deal, Australian navy sailors will be sent to US and UK submarine bases from this year to learn how to use the nuclear-powered submarines