WASHINGTON (Agencies): Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Roger Wicker has threatened to block the sale of US nuclear-powered attack subs to Australia unless the Biden administration increases defense outlays.

Australian officials have expressed concerns that such a decision could leave them in a jam after Canberra rejected a $65 billion sub deal with France.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken “fully expects” the US to move forward with the delivery of Virginia-class nuclear submarines to Australia, notwithstanding growing resistance from some US lawmakers.
Asked to comment on expected delays in the subs’ deliveries, and questions about whether the US Navy could receive priority treatment for the subs when they are finally built, Blinken reiterated that he was “confident based on everything” he’d heard that support remains “robust.”

Blinken also dismissed concerns by his interviewer that the AUKUS deal comes “too late” amid growing tensions between the US and China over Taiwan, saying that AUKUS is first and foremost “about modernizing an already strong and decades-old defense and military partnership, as well as of course working together on Pillar Two on the technologies that are going to be shaping the next – the century that we’re in.”

  • Sub Deal on the Ropes

The fate of the AUKUS pact, which sparked a backlash from France after being announced out of the blue in September 2021 and robbing Paris of a lucrative $65 billion diesel submarine contract with Canberra, has been called into question amid growing threats by Republicans to leverage the agreement for domestic military spending priorities.
Last week, a group of 22 GOP lawmakers in the Senate and House demanded that the Biden administration increase defense spending and the construction of nuclear-powered cruise missile fast attack subs, warning that America’s own security could be jeopardized if it gives too many subs away to Australia.
“We urge you to send Congress an AUKUS-specific request for appropriations and authorities alongside a multi-year plan to increase US submarine production to a minimum of 2.5 Virginia-class attack submarines per year,” the letter added.
The rogue lawmakers are seeking additional defense capacity beyond levels outlined in the debt limit deal reached in June, which capped national security spending in 2024 at $886 billion, a 3.3 percent increase over the current year. Some lawmakers believe that’s not enough amid US efforts to wage two-front proxy wars with both Russia and China.
The Virginia-class attack submarine was developed in the 1990s, and commissioned beginning in the mid-2000s, with 22 built to date, 8 under construction or on order, and up to 66 planned in total for the US Navy alone.
Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating blasted the AUKUS sub deal and questioned the utility of buying Virginia-class subs earlier this year, saying the plan to spend “$360 billion” to “get eight submarines” was “the worst deal in history,” and that it would leave Australia “sucked into the American control system” and dependent on US defense manufacturers. “If we were buying Collins-class replacements” (the non-nuclear subs currently on duty) “we’d get at least 40-50 of those submarines…for the same price,” Keating said.
Along with the submarine deal’s expense and delays in their possible delivery, AUKUS has been slammed for its potential to militarize the Asia-Pacific region, with Beijing, Moscow and Pyongyang each slamming it over its role in destabilizing the security situation.

By Media

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Translate »