Australia has formally entered the controversial AUKUS security pact with the U.S. and Britain on Monday to begin equipping its naval forces with nuclear submarines.
Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton formalized an agreement alongside diplomats from the U.S. and U.K. that will allow the countries to exchange sensitive “naval nuclear propulsion information”.
Dutton told local reporters that the agreement is a crucial step for Australia’s security, adding that it “will provide a mechanism for Australian personnel to access invaluable training and education from our U.S. and U.K. counterparts.”
“It is major step forward in Australia’s acquisition of eight conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarines,” Dutton wrote on Twitter.
The agreement was the first to be publicly signed under the defense alliance AUKUS, aimed to confront Asia-Pacific tensions between the U.S. and China, since it was first announced on September.
The announcement had infuriated China, with Beijing calling the move as an “extremely irresponsible” threat to peace within the region.
France also slammed Australia over the trilateral pact after Canberra scrapped their $65 billion diesel-electric submarine contract at the last moment to switch to a contract with AUKUS.
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