US, British and Australian leaders are meeting Monday in California, where they are expected to strike a deal on the sale of submarines to Canberra, in unprecedented cooperation amid growing concern over China’s growing influence.
Joe Biden, Rishi Sunak, and Anthony Albanese will meet in San Diego, where one of the most important naval bases in the United States is located, in order to hold this tripartite summit within the framework of their security alliance, AUKUS.
After 18 months of deliberations, Australia is preparing to unveil its plan to acquire eight nuclear-powered submarines, as part of what the Australian Prime Minister described as the “biggest leap forward” in the country’s defense history. A year and a half ago, in-depth discussions took place behind the scenes between Washington, Canberra and London regarding Australia’s acquisition of sensitive technology in the field of nuclear propulsion, but Australia ruled out having nuclear weapons. The submarine contract is worth tens of billions of dollars, but experts say its importance outweighs the jobs that will be created under it and the investments promised under it. Nuclear-propelled submarines are difficult to detect, can travel long distances and for long periods, and can carry advanced cruise missiles.
China expressed its strong opposition to this project, which it considered “dangerous” and aimed at besieging it.
Ocus is a three-party military alliance formed by Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States that aims to share military technology and other developments.
But Charles Edel of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington noted that “although each country has a slightly different rationale about Okus, it mainly boils down to China … given the explosive growth of its military power and its more aggressive stances over the past decade.” ». The alliance aims to establish the presence of these three countries in the strategic Asia-Pacific region, which is a vast area extending from the coasts of East Africa to the coasts of West America, through which an important part of global trade passes and where Chinese influence is growing.
Beijing, which does not rule out the use of force to bring Taiwan back to it, has approved a 7.2 percent increase in its defense budget for 2023, the largest increase since 2019.
According to the British newspaper “The Times”, Australia will get submarines manufactured in the United Kingdom, not in the United States. The creation of the Okus alliance, in parallel with Canberra’s cancellation of the contract to purchase 12 French submarines, led to a diplomatic crisis with Paris, which described the matter as “treason”.
However, the issue has since been settled, with intense diplomatic moves between Paris, Washington, London and Canberra, including a state visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to the United States in early December.
A French source said: “This is no longer our business. It is over,” noting that the three allied countries “informed” Paris of the ongoing decisions that will be taken during the summit.
In addition to losing a huge arms contract, France was angered by the imposition of a fait accompli by its close allies. Although Paris turned the page, it continues to believe that it was a “mistake”, and will maintain its “vigilance” on nuclear non-proliferation issues, according to the French source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, many contacts took place between Paris and Washington, the last of which was Biden speaking with his French counterpart on Tuesday, just as Secretary of State Anthony Blinken did with his counterpart, Catherine Colonna.
In January, the French and Australian foreign and defense ministers met in Paris.
Before heading to the United States, the British Prime Minister visited Paris, on Friday, to attend a summit that outlined the frameworks for a “new beginning” and “new ambition” in French-British relations, including in the Asia-Pacific region.
Sunak told reporters that the region “is home to half the world’s population and 40 percent of the world’s GDP and will continue to grow significantly.”
Source : aawsat.com