‘Foolish’: US Republicans threaten to block AUKUS deal

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

Australia’s AUKUS submarine deal with the United States has hit a hurdle with Senate republicans threatening to block the sale unless Joe Biden boosts funding for the domestic production line.

Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Friday moved to block legislation which would enable the sale of US Virginia-class submarines to Australia.

A US Virginia class nuclear-powered submarine will be sold to Australia under the agreement.Credit: AP

Under the AUKUS deal, Washington was set to sell Canberra between three and five of its own nuclear submarines in the 2030s before Australia begins building a new class of boat with Britain.

But the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Roger Wicker, said Biden needed to commit more money to guarantee “we have enough submarines for our own security before we endorse that pillar of the agreement”.

Wicker said that Australia’s commitment of US$3 billion for the US production line would not be enough to meet the needs of both countries.

“The president needs to submit a supplemental request to give us an adequate number of submarines,” he told US news outlet Politico.

“We need a concrete plan that includes not only the authorisation and money for an adequate number of attack submarines, but a plan for the industrial base to actually get there.”

Democrat Bob Menendez, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, blasted the Republican’s intervention as “foolish”.

“There seems to be an element of [Republicans] that has a problem transferring submarines to the Australians,” he told Politico.

John Blaxland, a professor of international security and intelligence studies with the Australian National University, said he believed the intervention needed to be seen as “political gamesmanship”.

“We know that across both houses of Congress there is bipartisan support for AUKUS to happen,” he said.

“There is a surprisingly clear-eyed recognition in United States’ political circles of the heightened significance of Australia and its utility to the US as it seeks to reassert its influence in the Indo-Pacific.

“This is not unlike what we see in Australia’s parliament – you see tactical positioning with a view to extract additional concessions.”

But Blaxland warned the comments still needed to be taken seriously and domestic politics in the US was “one of the many risks of AUKUS”.

“AUKUS has many points of vulnerability and this is one of the biggest ones,” he said.

“But one of the things that gives me confidence about AUKUS is the marked degree of overlap of interests between the three participating countries to a degree which we have not seen before in generations.”

“So political gamesmanship needs to be seen in that context.”

Cut through the noise of federal politics with news, views and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can sign up to our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here.

Most Viewed in Politics

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article