New York: The U.S. and Britain will share technology to help Australia deploy nuclear-powered submarines that could have a range extending across the Pacific, challenging China’s territorial claims in the region.
The plan could result in Australia conducting routine sail patrols through areas of the South China Sea that Beijing now claims as its own, and reach as far north as Taiwan.
The announcement is a major step for Australia, which until recent years has been hesitant to push back directly at core Chinese interests. But Australia has felt increasingly threatened, and three years ago was among the first nations to ban Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, from its networks.
American officials said Australia had committed never to arm the submarines with nuclear weapons; they would almost certainly carry conventional, submarine-launched cruise missiles, a military presence that could still alter the balance of power in the region.
On the Korean Peninsula: Pyongyang escalated its arms race with South Korea on Wednesday, launching two ballistic missiles off North Korea’s east coast. Hours later, South Korea announced the test of the country’s first submarine-launched ballistic missile.