Australia is on track to announce plans to buy new nuclear powered submarines from the US and UK, despite scepticism in Washington.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Defence Minister Richard Marles said Australia’s relationship with the US remained strong.
It comes after revelations two US senators raised concerns to President Joe Biden the new AUKUS deal between the three countries could kill off America’s submarine-building industry.
Mr Albanese said an “optimal pathway” for building the submarines would be revealed in the first quarter of this year.
“We’re very confident that it’s in the interests of Australia, but also in the interest of the United States and the interests of the United Kingdom,” he said on Saturday.
“When we talk about optimal pathway, we talk about not just the issue of what is built, but how it is built, as well as the optimal pathway in building a capacity of skills in the Australian workforce.”
Mr Marles said Australia would need to make its own industrial contribution for the US and UK deal, while working to prepare the local sector.
“We have said that we will build the capacity in Adelaide to build nuclear-powered submarines,” he said.
This would include working with nuclear technology experts from universities across Australia, as well as preparing for the blue-collar roles necessary for the construction.
“This is a really exciting opportunity for Australia,” Mr Marles said.
Australia needs to replace its ageing diesel-powered Collins-class fleet of submarines.
The former Morrison government controversially ditched a $90 billon French contract for new ones to instead build nuclear-powered subs from the US or UK.
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