Nuclear submarine deal ‘to generate jobs’

Australia is briefing neighboring Asian countries on its plan to build nuclear submarines ahead of an announcement about it in the United States, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said, as local media reported the program could generate 20,000 jobs.

U.S. President Joe Biden, Albanese and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak were to meet in San Diego late yesterday to announce a plan for Australia to acquire a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines next decade.

Australia was informing its regional neighbors about the plan, known as AUKUS, Albanese said on March 12 in San Diego, after meeting with Sunak.

"I've been talking with other leaders in the region, as well, explaining our position. And it's been well-received and understood why we're doing this," Albanese told reporters.

China has objected to the transfer of nuclear propulsion technology to Australia. AUKUS is seeking to counter China's military buildup and its pressure on Taiwan.

The 2021 announcement that the U.S. and Britain would share nuclear submarine technology with Australia came as a surprise to many Southeast Asian governments, said Perth USAsia Centre chief executive Gordon Flake.

"The government is right to reach out: a lot of the initial misunderstanding around the deal in Southeast Asia was they didn't understand the nuance between a nuclear-powered submarine and a nuclear-armed submarine. Those concerns have long since been dissipated," he said.

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