In a historic joint announcement with the United States and the United Kingdom detailing Australia’s nuclear transition, Aussie Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been called “that fellow Down Under” by US President Joe Biden.
Morrison this morning confirmed Australia would use American and British technology to build its next fleet of submarines, replacing the existing Collins class warships.
Morrison made it clear Australia was not seeking to establish nuclear weapons or a civil nuclear capability and would abide by non-proliferation obligations.
He also confirmed Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom have formed a new trilateral security partnership – AUKUS – with a focus on technology.
During the press conference, which featured leaders from the three countries in their respective capital cities, Biden thanked “that fellow Down Under” for bringing the countries together.
“Thank you Boris, and I want to thank that fellow Down Under,” he said.
“Thank you very much, pal! Appreciate it, Mr Prime Minister.”
He quickly backtracked and addressed Morrison by name as he thanked him for his partnership, but the fumble was not missed.
The new vessels will not be armed with nuclear weapons, but will use the nuclear-powered technology used by the United States and the UK.
They will be built in Adelaide.
Morrison said over the next 18 months the three countries would work together to “seek to determine the best way forward”.
“This will include an intense examination of what we need to do to exercise our nuclear stewardship responsibilities here in Australia,” Morrison said.
The announcement is expected to be met with some retaliation by China, who are likely to see it as an attack on their regional influence.
Biden said the aim of the agreement was to ensure long-term peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Because the future of each of our nations, and indeed, the world, depends on a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Biden said.
“This is about investing in our greatest source of strength. Our alliances and updating them to better meet the threats of today and tomorrow.”
Morrison raced back to Canberra from Sydney on Tuesday to convene a National Security Committee of cabinet ahead of the announcement.
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