Ex-Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne’s $90 billion French submarines have been scrapped. They will be urgently replaced by nuclear-powered vessels using joint American and British technology. This will bring Australia’s submarine fleet up to scratch with its allies.
The move has come amidst a flurry of geopolitical activity as tensions rise in the Pacific.
Official Chinese publications have increased their propaganda against Taiwan, Japan, America, and Australia in recent days. Western nations have been stationing warships in Pacific waters around Taiwan for months and moving military assets closer to the region.
Given Australia’s crucial position in any future Pacific conflict, it is unsurprising that the United States and the United Kingdom have collaborated to rapidly improve Australia’s assets. The French submarines were not due to arrive until 2030 which has long been considered too long by military experts.
At the same time, Five Eyes has become three with Canada and New Zealand left out of a new trilateral partnership to deal with strategic challenges in the Pacific region.
The glaring exclusion of the two nations was probably done due to their integration with Chinese technology, something which has been a point of national security contention in the past.
The United States, United Kingdom, and Australia will share intelligence in a security pact named AUKUS.
AUKUS will also assist Australia in its acquisition of nuclear submarines – something which is seen as an urgent requirement by the United States.
According to Politico, AUKUS will ‘make it easier for the nations to share information and know-how in key technological areas like artificial intelligence, cyber, underwater systems and long-range strike capabilities’.
Controversially for Australia, AUKUS is set to include a nuclear defence component.
“This will include an intense examination of what we need to do to exercise our nuclear stewardship responsibilities here in Australia. But let me be clear. Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
While AUKUS never specifically mentions China, the communist nation is suspected to be the cause for the pact’s creation given rising hostilities with China since the outbreak of Covid from its Wuhan viral lab.
A strong military alliance in the Pacific is the opposite of what China wants, with the new alliance described as ‘China’s worst nightmare’. It is widely accepted that if China were to make good on any of its threats over Taiwan’s sovereignty, Japan would engage in a military defence of its neighbour for strategic reasons of its own.
The current situation in the Pacific region is so serious that Cabinet ministers have been granted travel exemptions from Covid health orders to urgently attend Canberra where they will engage in top-secret discussions.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese, along with three of his shadow ministers, will also be included in the brief. The unusual step has added weight to the assumption that a serious regional issue is developing.
According to the ABC, Greg Sammut – Defence Department general manager of submarines – has issued a
In another worrying step, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to fly to the United States for high-level security meetings with President Biden which could not be conducted remotely.
This story is developing. More information to come.