Australia to invest $7.4 billion in new pacific base for AUKUS subs
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) will get at least eight nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS deal, which was unveiled in September last year.
On Monday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed Monday that his government approved a proposal to establish a new base on the country's eastern coast to house nuclear-powered assault submarines (SSNs) under the tri-nation AUKUS agreement.
The submarines will be manufactured in the country following a technology transfer from either the US or the UK.
In a foreign policy speech at Lowy Institute, Morrison said that the government "decided to establish a future submarine base on the east coast of Australia," noting that the situation in Ukraine will "inevitably stretch to the Indo-Pacific."
Morrison is facing a federal election in May and expressed that Australia "faces its most significant and dangerous security environment in 80 years."
During his speech, Morrison emphasized that plans to build a new eastern submarine station had been in the works for many years, with previous Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke originally declaring a "two-ocean basing plan" for the Australian Navy in 1987.
He noted that the new site will give the country "additional capacity," without relocating any existing or anticipated future capacity from the 'Fleet Base West' on the Indian Ocean, which is now the docking location for the RAN's Collins-class submarines.
The cost of $7.4 billion had been “provisioned” by the government to “meet the facilities and infrastructure requirements for the future transition from Collins to the future nuclear powers submarines for the next 20 years."
Morrison reassured that the west coast base would continue to “remain central” to the country’s future, given its strategic location on the Indian Ocean coast.
Brisbane and Port Kembla in Queensland and Newcastle in New South Wales were shortlisted as options by the Defense Department for the upcoming base, where "initial work" would be completed by 2023.
Russian-Chinese statement: We stand against any external interference
Last month, China and Russia expressed concern over the AUKUS alliance because it could "increase the risk of an arms race in the region and create the risks of proliferation of nuclear weapons," according to the joint statement.
The statement described the AUKUS defense alliance, which solely includes Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as "seriously concerning," particularly since their cooperation centers on nuclear submarines.
"Russia and China believe that such actions are contrary to the tasks of ensuring the security and sustainable development" of the Asia-Pacific region and "increase the danger of the start of an arms race".
The AUKUS collaboration, which was launched in September and prompted outrage in Beijing, will see Canberra buy nuclear-powered submarines using US technology.
The alliance, however, involved Australia canceling a submarine deal it had concluded with France, a move that Paris dubbed a "stab in the back" and led to a severe diplomatic row between the Western countries.