The US had "secured stability in the Indo-Pacific region for decades," said Biden in San Diego. The "unprecedented cooperation" that has now been decided should underpin "the prospect of peace for decades". During the joint appearance of the three politicians, a submarine and a US warship could be seen behind them. In a joint statement, the alliance said it was committed to a "free and open Indo-Pacific that is secure and stable."
This choice of words was generally interpreted as a warning against China. The leadership in Beijing has been trying for some time to establish a larger military, political and economic presence in the South Pacific region. The region is increasingly becoming the arena of competition between China and the United States. Immediately before the submarine deal was announced, Beijing had warned against it. A spokeswoman for China's Foreign Ministry said: "We call on the US, Great Britain and Australia to abandon the Cold War mentality."
The submarine deal is part of the Aukus Indo-Pacific security alliance founded a year and a half ago by Australia, Great Britain and the USA. Specifically, Australia wants to buy three nuclear-powered and conventionally armed Virginia-class submarines from the United States. A purchase option for two more submarines is also planned. The US submarines are scheduled for delivery during the 2030s.
In addition, Australia, the USA and Great Britain want to build a new generation of nuclear submarines together. These, too, are to be nuclear-powered, but conventionally armed. The project, based on a British submarine model, goes by the name of SSN-Aukus. The first of these boats are scheduled to be delivered in the late 2030s.
Australia wants to modernize its fleet with nuclear-powered submarines. The deal is extremely important for Australia because the country itself does not have the know-how to build nuclear submarines. Nuclear-powered submarines can travel great distances and are difficult for the enemy to locate. Biden emphasized that Australia would not receive nuclear weapons with the deal.
For his part, Albanese spoke of the "largest single investment in Australia's defense capability in our entire history". The project will support the Australian economy for "decades" and create "around 20,000 direct jobs".
In the course of founding Aukus, Australia had canceled a long-planned multi-billion dollar submarine deal with France. This had resulted in outraged reactions from the French government and temporarily put a massive strain on relations between Paris and Washington.