Australian Defence Minister Says May Consider Leasing Nuclear Subs While Fleet Being Built

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. Defence Minister Peter Dutton stated that the federal government is open to leasing nuclear submarines from the United States, even though its own fleet is still being built.

Last week, Australia entered into a regional security pact with the United States and the United Kingdom, known as AUKUS, which includes building U.S. nuclear submarines but these will not be ready until the late 2030s.

Asked on Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program whether the government would consider leasing nuclear submarines in the interim, Dutton said: “The short answer is yes.”

“There is all of that discussion to take place in the next 12 to 18 months,” he said.

The idea that you can buy a nuclear-powered submarine from the shelf is nonsense .”

He stated that the Chinese Communist Party is producing submarines and frigates. The rest of the world is increasing its production of aircraft carriers and submarines at an unprecedented rate.

“That unfortunately is the current dynamic,” he stated.

However, Australia’s decision caused backlash from the French due to Australia’s sudden scrapping of its $90 billion diesel submarine deal made under former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. This decision has caused the European nation to recall their Australian ambassador.

Epoch Times Photo
Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, President of France Emmanuel Macron, along with Australian ministers on the submarine HMAS Waller at Garden Island, in Sydney May 2, 2018. (AAP/Brendan Esposito/via Reuters

Dutton understood why the French are upset but stated that the government must act in Australia’s best interests.

“Given the changing circumstances within the Indo-Pacific, both now and over the next years, we had the need to make a decision in our national interests, and that’s exactly the thing we did,” he stated.

But he said suggestions that concerns over the French model had not been flagged by the Australian government “just defy frankly what is on the public record and certainly what was said publicly over a long period of time.”

If Australia had chosen the nuclear model offered by the French, it would have involved setting up a nuclear industry in Australia as they need to be refuelled every seven to 10 years.

The technology used by Britain and the U.S. means the reactor does not need to be refuelled for the life of the submarine–about 35 years.

“We don’t need to have a domestic nuclear industry,” Dutton stated.

This is a major win for Labor and we wanted to ensure that it was a bipartisan effort .”

While Labor supports the government’s decision to go ahead, Ed Husic said that the Coalition is known for shifting responsibility whenever events begin to unravel. They never accept responsibility,” Mr Husic stated.

By Colin Brinsden

AAP

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