New bill in US House to allow Australia to acquire US nuclear subs
A group of Democrats introduced the bill titled the "AUKUS Undersea Defense Act."
The House Foreign Affairs Committee said in a press release on Friday that Democrats in Congress introduced a bill that would enable Australia to legally receive US-made nuclear-powered submarines and instruction on their manoeuvering and maintenance operations.
The bill, titled the "AUKUS Undersea Defense Act" was proposed by House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Gregory Meeks, House Indo-Pacific Subcommittee Ranking Member Ami Bera, and Joe Courtney, Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee Ranking Member Joe Courtney.
"This bill supports the AUKUS Trilateral Security Framework by providing legislative authority to allow for the transfer of Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, the training of Australian private sector defense personnel, as well as the integration of Australian financial contributions to the US defense industrial base," the release said.
More than a year after the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia revealed plans to combine submarine forces, the three countries set forth their ambitious strategy to oppose what they call "China's rapid military expansion."
The allies will create a joint fleet of elite nuclear-powered submarines, financed by all three countries under the multi-decade AUKUS agreement, producing a more formidable force in the Indo-Pacific than any of them could achieve alone.
The plan posed questions for many top Australian figures who share a concern that "there is every reason for Australia to be a leader in our region of peace achieved through education, health, and trade, and also via cooperative, innovative climate action. We had the choice to be a non-partisan force for good. Why are we not taking it?," writer Stephanie Dowrick told The Sunday Morning Herald.
Fantastic turnout in Port Kembla yesterday against nuclear submarines, AUKUS and war. pic.twitter.com/CiGupGvgwo— Solidarity (@soli_aus) May 7, 2023
In March, a US official source said that Australia is planning to purchase as many as five US nuclear-powered submarines and later build a new model with US and British technology under a plan to strengthen the AUKUS Western alliance across the Asia-Pacific against rising China.
China warned that AUKUS risked setting off an arms race and accused the three countries of setting back nuclear nonproliferation efforts.
"We urge the US, the UK, and Australia to abandon the Cold War mentality and zero-sum games, honor international obligations in good faith and do more things that are conducive to regional peace and stability," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters in Beijing.