The initiative was announced jointly by US president Joe Biden and prime ministers Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison, joined virtually by videoconference.

Aukus partnership will enable Australia to have nuclear-powered submarines for the first time. The new allies’ agreement will include cooperation on nuclear-powered subs, AI and cutting-edge defense tech.

Morrison said teams from the three countries would draw up a joint plan over the coming 18 months for assembling the new Australian nuclear-powered submarine fleet, which will be built in Adelaide. It also meant that the Australian government cancelled a multi-billion contract for non-nuclear submarines with the French Company Naval Group.

Naval Group, which had been contracted to build 12 state-of-the-art attack class submarines, said the new agreement was a “great disappointment”.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described this as a “real stab in the back” from Australia. He also fired a shot at US President Joe Biden, saying that the sudden announcement of this deal without consulting other allies was a “brutal and unilateral decision” that “resembles a lot of what Mr. Trump was doing.”

The formation of Aukus comes at a time of rising tensions, especially over the South China Sea and Taiwan. New alliance will bolster the Integrated Review commitment to strengthen alliances with like-minded allies and deepen ties in the Indo-Pacific.

China has condemned the agreement as “extremely irresponsible”.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said it “seriously undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race”.

China’s embassy in Washington accused the countries of a “Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice”.

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