Biden-Johnson announcement: Leaders unveil nuclear AUKUS alliance to curb China

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Boris Johnson has announced a new national security alliance with the leaders of the US and Australia in an attempt to counter China‘s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific.

The prime minister spoke alongside US president Joe Biden and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison to unveil the AUKUS partnership, which will see the three countries share expertise on issues such as cyber warfare and artificial intelligence.

China was not mentioned in the live briefing but there was frequent reference to the changing situation in the region and it follows tensions between Beijing and Australia in recent months.

The alliance will work “hand-in-glove to preserve security and stability in the Indo-Pacific,” Mr Johnson said.

The joint announcement has also confirmed that the US will provide a nuclear-powered submarine to Australia, with Scott Morrison’s government abandoning a $90bn submarine deal with France.

Key Points

  • Britain forms nuclear AUKUS alliance with Australia and US to curb China

  • Australia’s Morrison insists new submarines will not field nuclear weapons

  • China will likely view AUKUS alliance as ‘provocative’, ex-US security official says

Wednesday 15 September 2021 21:14 , Conrad Duncan

Hello and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of Boris Johnson’s national security announcement tonight.

Boris Johnson 'to announce new alliance with US and Australia’

Wednesday 15 September 2021 21:25 , Conrad Duncan

Boris Johnson is set to announce a new alliance with the US and Australia with the aim of countering China’s global power, according to reports.

It has been reported that Mr Johnson, US president Joe Biden and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison will announce a new working group, known by the acronym AUKUS, to allow the countries to share information in key technological areas.

These are expected to include artificial intelligence, cyber, underwater systems and long-range strike capabilities.

In an integrated review of security and foreign policy earlier this year, the UK government outlined plans for a “tilt” in focus towards the Indo-Pacific region, with aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth being deployed on a voyage east.

ICYMI: Johnson flexes muscles with shake-up of cabinet for post-Covid era

Wednesday 15 September 2021 21:40 , Conrad Duncan

It has already been a busy day for Boris Johnson, who reshuffled his Cabinet this afternoon in a major shake-up of his government.

The prime minister replaced Dominic Raab as foreign secretary with Liz Truss following the chaotic withdrawal of western troops from Afghanistan and dismissed his education secretary Gavin Williamson after a series of gaffes and missteps in office.

Our political editor, Andrew Woodcock, has the full story below:

Boris Johnson flexes muscles with shake-up of cabinet for post-Covid era

Wednesday 15 September 2021 21:52 , Conrad Duncan

The leader of Canada’s Conservative Party has questioned why his country has been left out of the expected alliance between the UK, US and Australia to be announced tonight.

“Canada left out again... Do our allies just not trust [Justin] Trudeau?” Erin O’Toole, who is the country’s leader of the opposition, wrote on Twitter.

BREAKING: Britain forms nuclear AUKUS alliance with Australia and US to curb China

Wednesday 15 September 2021 22:05 , Conrad Duncan

The UK has formed a new security pact with the US and Australia in the Indo-Pacific region that will involve an array of projects in the fields of cyber warfare, artificial intelligence and quantum computing, it has been announced.

Although senior British officials insist that the new alliance is not aimed at any one country, it comes in the face of increasingly aggressive posturing from China.

Our defence editor, Kim Sengupta, has more on this breaking story below:

Britain forms nuclear alliance with Australia and US to curb China

Wednesday 15 September 2021 22:12 , Conrad Duncan

You can watch the joint press conference live below:

Watch: Watch live as Biden and Johnson give joint address on national security

Wednesday 15 September 2021 22:16 , Conrad Duncan

The new UK foreign secretary Liz Truss has described the AUKUS alliance as a “landmark” security partnership designed to deepen ties in the Indo-Pacific.

“We will work together to promote stability in a region that will become ever more important for the UK’s prosperity and security,” Ms Truss wrote on Twitter.

Wednesday 15 September 2021 22:18 , Conrad Duncan

Boris Johnson’s comments on the new alliance can be found below:

“The UK, Australia and US are natural allies – while we may be separated geographically, our interests and values are shared. The AUKUS alliance will bring us closer than ever, creating a new defence partnership and driving jobs and prosperity.

“This partnership will become increasingly vital for defending our interests in the Indo-Pacific region and, by extension, protecting our people back at home.”

Australia’s Morrison insists new submarines will not field nuclear weapons

Wednesday 15 September 2021 22:24 , Conrad Duncan

Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison has insisted that new submarines provided by the US as part of the AUKUS alliance will not be used for nuclear weapons.

Under the partnership, the US will help Australia with the technology and capability to deploy nuclear-powered submarines.

Mr Morrison said on Wednesday night that the watercraft would be built in Adelaide in close cooperation with the US and UK, but Australia would not be fielding nuclear weapons.

“We will continue to meet all our nuclear non-proliferation obligations,” he said.

Johnson: Defence partnership marks ‘new chapter’ in UK, US and Australia’s ‘friendship'

Wednesday 15 September 2021 22:33 , Conrad Duncan

The UK’s new alliance with the US and Australia marks a “new chapter” in global relations and will aim to make the world safer and generate jobs across the country, Boris Johnson has claimed.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Mr Johnson said he was “delighted” to join US president Joe Biden and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison to announce the AUKUS partnership.

He said: “We are opening a new chapter in our friendship and the first task of this partnership will be to help Australia acquire a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, emphasising of course that the submarines in question will be powered by nuclear reactors, not armed with nuclear weapons, and our work will be fully in line with our non-proliferation obligations.”

Mr Johnson added: “Perhaps most significantly, the UK, Australia and the US will be joined even more closely together, reflecting the measure of trust between us, the depth of our friendship, and the enduring strength of our shared values of freedom and democracy.

“Now the UK will embark on this project alongside our allies, making the world safer and generating jobs across the United Kingdom.”

Wednesday 15 September 2021 22:53 , Conrad Duncan

You can find Joe Biden’s comments below on the plans to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines as part of the AUKUS alliance:

Biden touts ‘strength’ of alliances with UK and Australia

Wednesday 15 September 2021 23:11 , Conrad Duncan

US president Joe Biden has praised the close partnership between his country, the UK and Australia as the three nations unveiled their new defence alliance at a joint press conference.

Mr Biden said on Wednesday that the countries had “long been faithful and capable partners who are even closer today”, adding that the three leaders needed to work together to manage the challenges of the 21st century.

Our reporter, Eric Garcia, has the full story below:

Biden praises alliances with UK and Australia as nations announce new nuclear pact

China will likely view AUKUS alliance as ‘provocative’, ex-US security official says

Wednesday 15 September 2021 23:31 , Conrad Duncan

The unveiling of the AUKUS alliance is a “very bold step” for Australia as the partnership will likely be viewed as a provocative move by China, a former senior US security official has said.

James Clapper, a former Director of National Intelligence, told CNN on Wednesday that the move would “breathe life into the notion of a pivot to Asia” in foreign policy over the coming decade.

However, he suggested that it would come with challenges for Australia due to its close relationship with China, adding: “Given the dependence that Australia has on China for its economy, it's a bold step because clearly the Chinese will view this as provocative… and they should.”

You can find his comments in full below:

Former Trump adviser says new alliance is significant step to counter China

Wednesday 15 September 2021 23:46 , Conrad Duncan

Equipping Australia with nuclear-powered submarines is a significant step that will help the US and its allies on military and diplomatic fronts, a former Trump adviser has said.

Matt Pottinger, who served as deputy national security adviser in the Trump administration, said that underwater warfare capabilities had been Beijing's “Achilles' heel”.

“When you have a strong military, it provides a backdrop of deterrence that gives countries the confidence to resist bullying,” Mr Pottinger, who is now a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, said.

“Part of the problem right now is that Beijing has gotten rather arrogant and it's been less willing to engage productively in diplomacy.”

A nuclear-powered submarine fleet would allow Australia to conduct longer patrols, giving the new alliance a stronger presence in the region.

Wednesday 15 September 2021 23:59 , Conrad Duncan

In an awkward moment from the joint press conference earlier today, Joe Biden appeared to forget the Australian prime minister’s name as he gave his remarks on the new partnership.

The US president could only refer to Scott Morrison as “that fella Down Under” and “Mr Prime Minister”, while he mentioned Boris Johnson correctly by name.

You can see the clip below:

Australia ‘didn’t have a choice’ over ‘bullying’ from Beijing says Tugendhat

01:11 , Alastair Jamieson

Australia needed to act ‘after years of bullying and trade hostility [from China] and watching regional neighbours like the Philippines see encroachment into their waters’ says Tom Tugendhat.

The chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee set out an analysis of the new Aukus pact on Twitter.

Nuclear-powered subs will be built in Adelaide

01:43 , Alastair Jamieson

The new submarines promised as part of the AUKUS pact will be but in South Australia, according to Australia PM Scott Morrison.

“ We intend to build these submarines in Adelaide in close cooperation with the UK and the US,” he said £But let me be clear, Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.”

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