Australia gets nuclear-powered subs in security deal with US, UK

A major new international security alliance between Australia, the UK and US has been revealed this morning, named AUKUS. 

A key part of the deal was security of the Indo-Pacific region. The first major decision was to deliver a nuclear-powered submarine fleet for Australia. 

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern discussed the agreement with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison last night. 

She said New Zealand’s prohibition of nuclear powered vessels in our waters "remains unchanged". 

"New Zealand is first and foremost a nation of the Pacific and we view foreign policy developments through the lens of what is in the best interest of the region," she said. 

"We welcome the increased engagement of the UK and US in the region and reiterate our collective objective needs to be the delivery of peace and stability and the preservation of the international rules based system."

Morrison, US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a joint announcement this morning via video. 

Johnson said they were opening a new chapter, with the aim to be working "hand in glove to preserve security and stability in the Indo-Pacific".

Johnson said only a handful of countries held nuclear powered submarines.

"It is a momentous decision for any nation to acquire this formidable capability," he said.

"We will have a new opportunity to reinforce Britain's place at the leading edge of science and technology, strengthening our expertise, and perhaps, most significantly, the UK, Australia and the US will be joined even more closely together, reflecting the level of trust between us, the depth of friendship and the enduring strength of our shared values of freedom and democracy."

Morrison said it would be taking the partnership "to a new level".

"Friends, AUKUS is born - a new enhanced trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States."

"AUKUS - A partnership where our technology, our scientists, our industry, our defence forces are all working together to deliver a more safer and secure region that ultimately benefits all."

AAP reported Australian Federal cabinet ministers were summoned to a secret meeting in Canberra on Wednesday ahead of the announcement after being granted border exemptions to enter the ACT.

Matthew Doran, a political reporter in the ABC's Parliament House bureau in Canberra, said the pact represented a "massive shift in Australia’s foreign policy". 

AUUKUS would give Australia access some of the most secretive parts of the US’s defence technology arrangements, Doran said. 

"Nuclear submarines are seen as the key to securing Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom’s interests throughout the Asia-Pacific region."

He said the pact aimed to address the "elephant in the room" that was China, even if the three countries did not explicitly say, and the countries would be looking to counter China’s influence internationally. 

- 1News & AAP