- Biden announced a new security partnership – dubbed “AUUKUS” – with the UK and Australia.
- The new working group will allow the countries to collaborate on AI, cyber, and nuclear infrastructure.
- Officials told POLITICO that the agreement that the subtext of the agreement is countering China.
President announce a new security partnership with the UK and Australia in a speech at the White House on Wednesday, where he was joined virtually by Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom and Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia.
“We have always seen the world through a similar lens,” said PM Morrison, speaking first. “We must now take our partnership to a new level.”
Morrison said the first major initiative of AUUKUS would be to deliver a new nuclear-powered submarine fleet to Australia, while stressing that Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.
Next, PM Johnson spoke, declaring “a new chapter in our friendship.”
“This will be one of the most complex and technically-demanding projects in the world, lasting decades and requiring the most advanced technology,” Johnson said.
“We will have a new opportunity to reinforce Britain’s place at the leading edge of science and technology,” he continued. “The UK, Australia and the US will be joined even more closely together, reflecting the measure of trust between us, the depth of our friendship.”
Next, Biden spoke, joking about the AUUKUS acronym — pronounced ‘AW-kiss.’ “It sounds strange with all these acronyms, but this is a good one,” Biden said.
“We all recognize the imperative of ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific over the long term,” Biden said.
“This effort reflects the broader trend of key European countries playing a supremely important in the Indo-Pacific,” Biden added. “France, in particular, already has a substantial Indo-Pacific presence and is a key partner and ally in strengthening the security and prosperity of the region.
Australian media reported that the new partnership is spurring Canberra to abandon a roughly $66 billion deal with France to deliver 12 state-of-the-art attack class subs that fell years behind schedule and became ensnared in domestic politics.
“We’re not talking about nuclear-armed submarines. These are conventionally-armed submarines that are powered by nuclear reactors,” Biden said. He announced that the 3 governments will launch an “18 month consultation period” to determine different elements of the program.
Biden ended his remarks without taking questions.
The new working group — reportedly dubbed AUUKUS, incorporating each country’s initials — will allow the 3 Anglophone countries to share advanced technologies including artificial intelligence, cyber, underwater systems and long-range strike capabilities, according to POLITICO.
According to a White House official and a congressional staffer familiar with the matter, countering China is an important subtext of the new security partnership.
Watch the full speech by the 3 world leaders here:
This is a developing story. Please check back for further updates.