Recently, the Australian government’s military purchase expenditures have been “big money”-there was a cooperation plan with the United States and the United Kingdom to jointly build the Auchus nuclear-powered submarine at a cost of 368 billion Australian dollars, which was the largest in the history of domestic defense investment; The Tomahawk cruise missile was approved by the U.S. Department of Defense… The Australian government’s huge military purchase orders have come one after another, and criticism from the domestic public and the international community has become louder.
Large-scale military purchase orders continue
According to CNN, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency of the US Department of Defense recently approved Australia’s request to purchase 220 US-made “Tomahawk” cruise missiles to arm Australian naval ships and the US nuclear-powered submarines it recently agreed to buy. The deal is worth A$1.3 billion, including associated maintenance and logistics services. This purchase is part of the Orcus agreement.
This is another large-scale military purchase order from Australia after the leaders of the United States, Britain and Australia announced the detailed plan for cooperation in the Auckus nuclear submarine.
On March 14, U.S. President Biden, British Prime Minister Sunak and Australian Prime Minister Albanese announced a detailed plan for the cooperation of the Orcus nuclear submarine at the San Diego Naval Base in the United States. According to the joint statement issued by the three parties after the meeting, the United States will sell three American “Virginia” class nuclear-powered submarines to Australia. The transaction will be completed in the early 1930s, and the United States may sell two more in the future. The three countries also plan to jointly develop a new type of nuclear submarine based on the technology of the United States and Britain. The entire scheme is expected to be completed by 2055 at a cost of US$245 billion (A$368 billion). Australian Prime Minister Albanese said the plan marked “Australia’s largest ever defense investment”.
Al Jazeera reported that the Ocus nuclear submarine cooperation plan announced this time is a long-term, multi-stage plan. The plan aims to make Australia a full partner in top-secret US nuclear technology, which the US has previously only shared with the UK. The US, UK and Australia will undertake a series of 10-year initiatives to help Australia develop, operate and develop the “infrastructure, technological capabilities, industrial and human capital” needed for autonomous submarines. While it will take years to fully materialize, the deal marks a shift in how the three allies approach security in the Pacific.
In recent years, Australia’s military spending has continued to increase. On September 15, 2021, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia announced the establishment of the so-called “trilateral security partnership.” The United States and Britain, two countries with nuclear weapons, will help the Australian Navy build a nuclear submarine force. In the 2022-2023 fiscal year, the Albanese government’s defense expenditure budget will increase by 8%, reaching a high of nearly 48.7 billion Australian dollars, and it is proposed that by 2026, the ratio of Australia’s defense expenditure to GDP will increase to more than 2%.
Since the beginning of this year, Australia’s arms purchase agreements have continued one after another. In January, the Australian government successively confirmed that it will spend more than 1 billion Australian dollars to purchase the “Naval Attack Missile” and the “Hippocampus” high-mobility rocket launcher system, and spend nearly 3 billion Australian dollars to order 40 US-made “Black Hawk” helicopters. The British “Financial Times” reported that the delivery of these US-made “Black Hawk” helicopters will begin this year.
“The United States and the United Kingdom pay for their guests in Australia”
According to the website of the British Broadcasting Corporation, the Orcus nuclear submarine cooperation plan will make Australia the seventh country in the world to have a nuclear-powered submarine. This is a major upgrade to Australia’s military capabilities. Australia will also become the second country, after the UK, to acquire cutting-edge US nuclear propulsion technology. The submarines will operate farther and faster than Australia’s existing diesel-powered submarines, and for the first time Australia will be able to engage enemies at long range.
“Australia regards China as an important security threat to its surrounding environment, and is worried that China’s power will penetrate into the South Pacific region where Australia’s traditional sphere of influence is located. Therefore, it intends to enhance its military defense capabilities.” Asia-Pacific Security Diplomacy, Institute of Asia-Pacific and Global Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Zhang Jie, director of the research office, said in an interview with our reporter.
Guo Chunmei, deputy director of the Institute of Southeast Asia and Oceania at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, analyzed in an interview with this reporter that Australia regards the US-Australia alliance as the cornerstone of its diplomacy and defense, and regards the cooperation with the Orcus nuclear submarine as a “supreme honor”. From Australia’s point of view, the Orcus nuclear submarine cooperation will greatly enhance Australia’s national defense capabilities and expand its regional influence. Australia also hopes to develop its own defense industry by building nuclear submarines locally and integrating into the defense supply chain of the United States and the United Kingdom, boosting Australia’s advanced manufacturing, which in turn will drive economic development and create more jobs. But these are just Australia’s “wishful thinking” at present.
According to an analysis published on the website of Russia’s “Izvestia”, after Australia acquires the “Virginia” class submarine, Orcus will have a coordinated submarine force of the same type in the Pacific region, which can be stationed and served in US bases or base in Australia. From the perspective of combat operations, this move seems to be beneficial to the three parties of the United States, Britain and Australia. In fact, the United States is the biggest beneficiary-first of all, the United States gets money. Second, the United States avoided the risks associated with developing a new type of submarine. Third, the Australian Navy effectively became part of the US Navy. “In this alliance, in fact, the United States and Britain treat guests, and Australia pays for it.”
“The plan of the United States, Britain and Australia has high risks and high returns, but the benefits may go to the United States and Britain, but the risks are left to Australia alone. Based on the arrangement of the latest agreement, it is not so much that the United States and the United Kingdom are helping Australia build nuclear-powered submarines, it is better to say that Australia’s arming ‘Become what the United States and the United Kingdom want.” Guo Chunmei analyzed that the United States and the United Kingdom nominally said to help Australia train officers and technicians, but in fact let the Australian navy serve on American and British submarines, and Australian laborers were dispatched by their shipyards; in name, they worked hard to allow Australia to have nuclear power as soon as possible Submarines, in fact, pave the way for American and British nuclear submarines to visit and station in Australia as soon as possible; in name, they help Australia improve its national defense capabilities, but in fact it makes Australia a supplement to the US Indo-Pacific fleet. Tentacles for close reconnaissance, assistants for long-range attacks. The above-mentioned “cooperation” is actually paid by the Australian taxpayers. Even if Australia contributes money, people, and place, whether the United States and Britain can support Australia in building its own nuclear submarine in the end, there are still many variables.
criticized by the international community
The Australian government is actively promoting cooperation on the Auckus nuclear submarine and signing large-scale arms purchase contracts. However, people in Australia are generally concerned that the huge amount of arms purchases will not only fail to solve Australia’s so-called security problems, but will also take away Australia’s financial resources to promote economic development and ensure social and people’s livelihood.
According to the “Australian” report, former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating criticized the US-UK-Australia nuclear submarine cooperation as “the worst deal ever”. Orcus maintains the hegemony of the United States by containing China, but Australia pays a huge price, but it can neither resolve the challenge of competition among major powers in the region, nor solve the security issues of the Australian people and the Australian continent. It worries him because Australia is embarking on a “dangerous and unnecessary” journey.
According to Zhang Jie’s analysis, the Australian people “do not buy it” for the cooperation with the Orcus nuclear submarine, out of many practical concerns. On the one hand, the plan is costly and takes a long time, and is affected by political factors such as partisan struggles in the United States and Australia, regime change, etc. It is still a big question mark whether it can ultimately improve the country’s defense capabilities. On the other hand, the plan may have an impact on the newly warming China-Australia relationship, and it will trigger strong opposition from relevant countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia, which will have a negative impact on Australia’s diplomatic environment and economic and trade relations.
Senator David Sawbridge of the Australian Green Party bluntly stated that this is a “nuclear power attack” of up to 368 billion Australian dollars, which will attack the government’s public core services such as public education, health, housing and aboriginal people in the next few decades. fiscal space. Josh Wilson, a member of the Australian House of Representatives, publicly opposed the “Ocus” agreement, saying that he “does not believe that nuclear-powered submarines are the only or best answer to Australia’s strategic needs.” At the same time, he is worried that Australia’s fragile nuclear waste disposal capacity cannot cope with the large amount of highly radioactive material brought about by the decommissioning of nuclear submarines.
Guo Chunmei believes that at present, Australia has high inflation, poor macro-control effects, increasing downward pressure on the economy, and the restoration of fiscal surplus is far away. According to the latest Orcus “road map”, it will take at least 20 years for Australia to obtain its own nuclear submarines. Most of the 368 billion Australian dollars will be used to invest in infrastructure, purchase US nuclear submarines, and fund the UK to build nuclear submarines. Given the shortage of financial resources and economic pressure, the “unequal treaty” signed by Australia is undoubtedly “robbing resources” with people’s livelihood.
The Orcus nuclear submarine cooperation plan has also been criticized by the international community. The “Sydney Morning Herald” reported that after the announcement of the Orcus nuclear submarine cooperation plan, it was criticized by Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia. The latter worry that the Orcus agreement will intensify the escalating regional arms race.
James Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Australia’s purchase of U.S. nuclear submarines has “caused real and concrete harm” to the international nuclear non-proliferation system, “We may not have to worry about Australia misusing weapons-grade nuclear fuel , but other countries may use it as a precedent for lifting nuclear fuel safeguards.”
“The risk of nuclear proliferation caused by the sharing of nuclear-powered submarine technology is itself a controversial topic. The promotion of this plan has made Japan, South Korea and other US regional allies also have the urge to participate in the plan, which in disguise has triggered an arms race and nuclear proliferation within the region. Risks will exacerbate the substantive military alliances in the Asia-Pacific region, push the security situation in the Asia-Pacific region toward confrontation between camps and a new cold war, and bring negative impacts on regional security.” Zhang Jie said.
Source: Phoenix New