The White House has confirmed that US President Joe Biden will speak on a “national security initiative” at 7 am (AEST) on Thursday, amid new reports of a major shakeup of Australia’s submarine program.
Biden will announce the AUUKUS group, a pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, to help allies share information and knowledge in various fields in what is seen as an attempt to counter the growing influence of Beijing. They include artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, subsea systems, and long-range attack capabilities.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that an agreement had been reached, but declined to share details.
“The parameters of this agreement, and the announcements later today, we will leave it to that announcement to be made,” he said, when asked about the report at an overnight press conference (AEST).
Defense Minister Peter Dutton and Foreign Minister Marise Payne are currently in the US for a series of meetings and reportedly joined the call, while the leader of the opposition Anthony Albanese and some of the leading Labor figures were also informed.
Naval Group, the company contracted to design and build 12 attack-class submarines for the Royal Australian Navy, did not respond to a request for comment from 9News.com.au.
The cost of the program has skyrocketed from $ 50 billion when it was first announced in 2016, amid an ongoing dispute over how much of the work would be done on Australian soil.
“We must spend at least 60 percent of the total contract value with Australian companies,” defense industry Melissa Price said in March this year after meeting with the company’s global director, Pierre Eric Pommellet.