Rishi Sunak Heads to US For Latest Phase of AUKUS Deal

The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS CaliforniaInternationalIndiaAfricaChina has repeatedly voiced opposition to the trilateral AUKUS pact, urging the United States, UK, and Australia “to abandon Cold War mentality and zero-sum game,” while warning that the arrangement poses “serious nuclear proliferation risks… exacerbates [the] arms race and hurts peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific.”UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is flying to the US on Sunday to meet with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and US President Joe Biden amid anticipated new developments linked with the trilateral AUKUS security pact. The trio of leaders will brainstorm their next steps in line with the new defense pact amid increasingly inflated allegations of a “Chinese threat” being fostered by Washington and its allies. The sitdown in San Diego, California, on Monday, will come amid reports that Canberra is hoping to beef up its naval capabilities with nuclear-powered submarines via a multi-stage program.Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, when confirming the meeting earlier, shied away from making any clarifying statements about the submarines in question. However, a number of media reports indicated that Canberra planned to acquire up to five Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines from Washington as part of the AUKUS pact over the course of the next decade. There were also reports that subsequently Australia sought to build a new class of nuclear-powered submarines based on Britain’s next-generation submarine design, currently dubbed Submersible Ship Nuclear Replacement (SSNR), which is due to replace the Astute-class design. Speaking in India on March 9, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said his country would maintain “100 percent sovereignty” over the submarines it would operate.AUKUSSunak Reportedly Confident Australia Will Choose British-Made Submarines Over American Ones9 March, 02:59 GMTOn the eve of the visit to the US, Rishi Sunak, referencing AUKUS, hailed “global alliances” as “our greatest source of strength and security”.

"I am travelling to the US today to launch the next stage of the AUKUS nuclear submarine program, a project which is binding ties to our closest allies and delivering security, new technology and economic advantage at home,” Sunak stated, adding that the UK would be “secure, prosperous and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners."

Sunak’s trip comes ahead of the unveiling of the UK government’s Integrated Review of defense and foreign policy for the 2020s, with the revised version expected to be published on Monday. According to Downing Street, the document will “address the grave risks from Putin’s Russia, the increasingly concerning behavior of the Chinese Communist Party and hybrid threats to our economy and energy security.AsiaBeijing Says AUKUS Fuels Arms Race in Asia-Pacific, Undermines Nuclear Non-Proliferation1 February, 12:16 GMT

‘Fueling Military Confrontation’

In September 2021, when the US, UK, and Australia announced their trilateral defense partnership, its trailblazing initiative was the development of nuclear-powered submarine technology for the Royal Australian Navy. Accordingly, France’s military industry was gypped out of a multi-billion dollar diesel-electric submarine deal with Australia, as the latter opted to ditch its earlier agreement, with a full-blown diplomatic row ensuing at the time. However, lingering resentments were overcome, Paris choked down the snub, and AUKUS plans are marching forward. Thus, Australia, which is not a nuclear power, will become the seventh country to have a nuclear-powered submarine. Beijing has been vehemently critical of the entire AUKUS deal, arguing it is a breach of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, while fraught with risks of exacerbating the arms race in the Asia-Pacific.”Despite being called a ‘trilateral security partnership,’ AUKUS is essentially about fueling military confrontation through military collaboration. It is apparently driven by Cold War thinking. It creates additional nuclear proliferation risks, exacerbates arms race in the Asia-Pacific and hurts regional peace and stability. China is deeply concerned and firmly opposed to it,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said.Beijing urged the US, UK, and Australia to “abandon their Cold War and zero-sum mindset, honor their international obligations, and act in the interest of regional peace and stability.” China also categorically dismissed the alleged “China threat” being echoed by Washington and its NATO allies. Claims that Beijing is significantly beefing up its military forces and “bullying its neighbors and threatening Taiwan” were slammed by China as deliberately inflated, and only serving to provoke regional confrontation.“NATO should seriously consider what role it played in maintaining European security. I want to emphasize that the Asia-Pacific region is not a field for geopolitical struggle, the Cold War mentality and the bloc confrontation are not welcome here,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.AsiaBeijing Says AUKUS Fuels Arms Race in Asia-Pacific, Undermines Nuclear Non-Proliferation1 February, 12:16 GMT


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