US President Joe Biden is set to announce later on Wednesday a new working group with the UK and Australia that will deliver Canberra’s first nuclear submarine and enable the three countries to share advanced defense technologies in a thinly-veiled bid to counter China, media reported.
The group, to be known by the AUUKUS acronym representing the three countries, will share information and know-how in key technological areas like artificial intelligence, cyber, underwater systems and long-range strike capabilities, US news outlet Politico reported, citing a White House official and a Congressional staffer.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, meanwhile, reported that Canberra’s next submarine fleet will be nuclear-powered under the deal that will scrap a controversial $90 billion program to build up to 12 French-designed submarines.
Australia’s embrace of nuclear-powered submarines will, however, have political and technological challenges, given that it has no existing domestic nuclear industry, the broadcaster said.
Politico said the pact will also allow the United States and the United Kingdom to share their knowledge of how to maintain nuclear defense infrastructure.
While there was nothing explicitly mentioning China in the deal, the subtext of the announcement was that this was another move by Western allies to push back on China’s rise in the military and technology arenas, Politico observed.
Biden is to announce the deal in a 5:00 PM ET (21:00 GMT) address on Wednesday.
Later this month, the White House will host its first Quad leaders meeting, bringing Biden together with the prime ministers of Australia, India and Japan in an alliance similarly contrived to counter China.