US President Joe Biden is set to announce the details of a nuclear submarine deal with the leaders of Australia and the United Kingdom in California on Monday, people familiar with the matter said.
Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will travel to San Diego to unveil the details during an event at a naval base, potentially aboard a submarine. The project is part of the so-called Aukus agreement, launched in 2021 to counter China’s military power in the Indo-Pacific.
The White House declined to confirm the plans.
The allies are expected to announce their preferred design to replace Australia’s aging Collins-class fleet, Bloomberg News reported last month. The three nations are sharing classified military capabilities to allow Australia to construct and deploy new nuclear-powered submarines in the Pacific region.
The project has taken longer than expected, with US restrictions on technology and information-sharing applying to the other Aukus members even though they are partners in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing community
Asked about those tech transfer issues, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters in January “we’re feeling very good about the pathway on Aukus.”
The deal caused a major diplomatic rift with France after then-Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in 2021 canceled a A$90 billion ($58 billion) submarine contract with Paris in favor of the deal with the US and UK to build nuclear-powered vessels.
Biden hosted French President Emmanuel Macron for a state dinner in December and spoke to him on the phone Tuesday.
They “discussed the cooperation between the United States and France in the Indo-Pacific region as well as shared efforts to address challenges posed by the People’s Republic of China to the rules-based international order,” the White House said in a readout of the call.
Macron until late last year said the offer of French-built submarines for Australia was still on the table, even though there was no indication Australia was eager to reconsider the deal.