AUKUS: Australia is on track to announce "in the first half of next year" the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines as part of a project with the United States and the United Kingdom, according to Defense Minister Richard Marles .
"You don't rush to build a nuclear-powered submarine, and so the question is very relevant to us, when will we be able to get the first submarine in the water," Marles said after talks in Honolulu on Saturday. A joint news conference with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
On September 15, 2021, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States announced the Ocas Security Agreement, pledging to work more closely on defense and research. The United States and the United Kingdom will collaborate with Australia to build and maintain a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, expanding Australia's military reach in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Great to hear that Secretary Austin confirmed the progress there," Marles said.
According to Marles, while extending the life of its existing non-nuclear submarines, Australia is attempting to "bridge and plug any capability gaps". According to him, the announcement will include a timeline for the arrival of the nuclear-powered model, as well as details on how to bridge any capacity gaps.
Austin reiterated the United States' concerns about China's growing role in the region and globally, citing "a growing challenge from autocratic countries".
"We are deeply concerned about China's aggressive, rapid and unstable military activities in the Taiwan Strait and throughout the region," he said.
According to Marles, in line with countries attempting to "maintain a global rules-based order" including freedom of the seas, China is "attempting to shape the world around it in ways we have not seen before". . presents a challenge.
Some of Australia's neighbors have criticized the Aukas Agreement, with China in particular taking its concerns to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Beijing claimed that the agreement to transfer nuclear submarine technology to Australia violated international non-proliferation treaties.
Following a statement by IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi that he was happy with the engagement of Ocus partners so far, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning accused the agency of "turning a blind eye" to international concerns.