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• China has voiced its criticism towards the $245 billion AUKUS initiative, involving Britain and  the United States, which aims to develop a novel category of nuclear-powered submarines  equipped with conventional weaponry. China argues that this project has the capacity to ignite  an arms race. 

• Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy emphasized on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, that  Australia’s planned acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines is a response to the ongoing  arms race in the Indo Pacific region, rather than a catalyst for it. The AUKUS project, valued at  $245 billion and involving collaboration with Britain and the United States, has faced criticism  from China, who believes it has the potential to ignite further militarization. 

• Addressing concerns within the domestic political landscape regarding the program’s high cost  and ambitious goals of constructing the submarines in Australia by 2040, Mr. Conroy  underscored the significance of AUKUS for Australia’s defense. He stated that the current arms  race is the most significant since 1945, rejecting claims that Australia is contributing to its  escalation. Instead, he emphasized that Australia is actively responding to the prevailing  circumstances, drawing parallels with the events leading up to World War Two. 

• As part of a reorganization of Australia’s defense forces, there has been a focus on  safeguarding the northern approaches to the continent and securing sea trade routes.  Additionally, Australia has increased its military collaborations and conducted joint exercises  with Southeast Asian nations, including the Philippines, such as the recent joint patrols in the  South China Sea on November 25, 2023. 

• According to Mr. Conroy, Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines will serve a dual purpose of  intelligence gathering during peacetime and attacking enemy targets in times of war. He  emphasized the importance of having the ability to hold off adversaries and threaten their  assets far away from Australia, rather than just stationing pickets around Karratha or off  Darwin.  

• With the third-largest exclusive economic zone on Earth, Australia’s current diesel-electric fleet  of Collins-class submarines must travel long distances before reaching their patrol area, using  more fuel in transit than on patrol. However, a nuclear-powered submarine would only spend  15-20% of its time in transit, compared to the half of the time that diesel-electric submarines  spend traveling to and from their patrol area. 

PREFERANCE- https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/australia-says-aukus-a response-to-arms-race-not-fuel-for-it/article67582044.ece



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