US senators warn President Biden not to provide nuclear submarines to Australia

Two US senators express major concerns over trilateral AUKUS agreement between Australia, UK and US, saying US supply of nuclear submarines (SSNs) to Australia would undermine US submarine fleet I said it is possible.

In a letter sent to the Biden administration on Dec. 21, 2022, Senators Jack Reed (DR.I.) and James Inhof (R-Oklahoma) said the AUKUS deal would not be possible without enough submarines for the U.S. Navy. warned that he would leaveDecades To Supply The Reported Australian Fleet break defense.

“As we work to build this strategic partnership with Australia and the United Kingdom over the next few decades, we will adopt a ‘do no harm’ approach to the AUKUS negotiations to ensure that the United States’ sovereign national security capabilities are not undermined. I strongly encourage you to do so,” the senator wrote to U.S. President Joe Biden, reporting Breaking Defense.

“What was first touted as a ‘do no harm’ opportunity to help Australia and the UK and build long-term competitive advantage for the US and its Pacific allies could turn into a mostly zero-sum game. I am concerned that there is , her SSN in the United States very advanced.

“We believe that the current situation calls for a sober assessment of the facts to avoid stressing the U.S. submarine industrial base to breaking point.”

Senators recognize that providing Australia with U.S. submarines will help them counter an aggressive Beijing in the long run, but “achieving such a goal would take decades, and in the meantime We cannot simply ignore modern reality.”

The Epoch Times contacted the White House and Senator Jack Reed’s office to confirm the report’s veracity, but did not receive a response by press time.

Senator Reid is chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, and Senator Inhofe was an influential member of the committee until his recent retirement.

The bipartisan intervention marks the first time members of the US Congress have expressed concerns over the AUKUS deal, and comes three months before the Australian government announces its nuclear submarine program.

US lawmakers say AUKUS legal implications need to be understood

In a letter to the White House, the senator said there are industrial, statutory and regulatory constraints on the AUKUS deal.

“We still have very little understanding of what needs to be allowed or exempted to make the AUKUS SSN option a reality,” the senator wrote, Breaking Defense reported.

“These permits or waivers are serious matters and should not be taken for granted in negotiating agreements.”

Meanwhile, members of the House Armed Services Committee in 2022 accepted the AUKUS agreement and passed legislation to train Australia’s naval personnel, but not to the extent the US can help Australia at the expense of its own naval fleet. I kept hesitating.

“There’s a lot of talk that Australians will buy US submarines. That won’t happen,” said Rep. Rob Whitman (R-Va.) in December. break defense.

“I don’t know how they’re going to build a submarine and sell it to Australia in the meantime.”

In September 2021, Biden announced a trilateral security pact between Australia, the UK and the US known as AUKUS.

The announcement kicked off an 18-month period of intensive consultations between the three governments to explore the best path forward to provide Australia with a nuclear submarine capability with conventional weapons as soon as possible. rice field.

According to a May 2022 statement, “The Navy is playing a key leadership role in the development of this plan to ensure that our country’s outstanding expertise is applied to the nuclear submarine initiative.” statement (pdf) by Admiral Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations.

“We are focused on helping Australia understand the full range of capabilities required to design, build, operate and maintain a nuclear navy. It represents a major strategic opportunity to expand cooperation and cooperation between the two countries, and is at a pace that corresponds with the President’s mandate.

“The Navy is also uniquely equipped to counter the gray zone gradualism of its adversaries.”

US submarines closing Australia’s capabilities gap

Former Australian Defense Minister and current opposition leader Peter Dutton has previously said that having a small number of Virginia-class submarines “off-the-shelf” is the best way for Australia to close the capability gap between its current Collins-class fleet and the Navy. said it is. The emergence of domestically produced nuclear submarines.

A capability gap means that aging diesel-powered Collins-class submarines will need to be expanded.

Former U.S. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, who served as U.S. Navy secretary during the Trump administration, said in November 2022 that the U.S. Navy should provide more support to defend Australian waters. Beijing.

I know it’s hard to say “we’re on your side and here to support you when you’re sitting on the tip of a spear”, but by the time we deliver the gear that matters It will take 10 years, Spencer told The Australian.

China’s state-run media, the Global Times, has called AUKUS a tool for stirring up issues and creating “suspicion” about the Chinese regime’s intentions.

Australia’s defense minister and deputy prime minister, Richard Marls, has yet to address the latest concerns, but has previously said he was “extremely optimistic” about a 2030 deadline for the country to deploy nuclear submarines in our waters. I think there is.

We have reached out to the White House, Senator Jack Reed’s office and the Australian Defense Minister’s office for comment.

Daniel Y. Teng, Rebecca Zhu, and Victoria Kelly-Clark contributed to this report.

Henry Jom

Henry Jom is an Australia-based reporter covering Australian local news. Please contact [email protected]