Former Australian Prime Minister says AUKUS is ‘the worst deal in history’

SYDNEY – Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating on Wednesday launched a blistering attack on his country’s plan to buy nuclear-powered submarines from the United States to upgrade its fleet, saying “it has to be the worst deal of all history”.

Speaking at a National Press Club event, Keating said the submarines would not serve any useful military purpose.

“The only way for the Chinese to threaten or attack Australia is on land. In other words, they are bringing in an armada of troop ships with a massive army to occupy us,” Keating said. not possible for the Chinese.”

He added that Australia would sink such a Chinese armada with planes and missiles.

“The idea that we need American submarines to protect us,” Keating said. “If we buy eight, three are at sea. Three will protect us from the power of China. Really? I mean, the garbage of it. Garbage.”

Australia’s deal – announced in San Diego on Monday by US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – came amid growing concern over military buildup and Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific. Biden stressed that the submarines would not carry any nuclear weapons.

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles said the deal was needed to counter the biggest conventional military buildup in the region since World War II.

“We need to take the initiative to develop the capability to operate a nuclear-powered submarine so that we can pass on a much more self-sufficient nation to our children and grandchildren,” Marles said.

China said on Tuesday that the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom were traveling “further down the wrong and dangerous path for their own geopolitical interests” by signing the agreement, which was given the acronym AUKUS.

China reiterated its objections at length on Wednesday, accusing the three countries of “coercing” the International Atomic Energy Agency into approving the deal.

“China calls on all IAEA member states to actively promote the intergovernmental process to find a solution to safeguards issues related to US-British-Australian nuclear submarine cooperation…and uphold international peace and security” , Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said. said during a daily briefing.

Keating served as Prime Minister for more than four years in the 1990s. He was from the Labor Party, the same party as Albanese.

Keating said the submarine deal was the worst international decision taken by the Labor Party in more than 100 years, when it tried unsuccessfully to introduce conscription during the First World War.

Keating also scoffed at the cost of the deal, which Australian officials estimated at A$268-368 billion ($178-245 billion) over three decades. Australian officials say the deal will create 20,000 jobs.

“For $360 billion, we’re going to get eight submarines,” Keating said. “It has to be the worst deal in all of history.”

At the Press Club event, Keating was asked if his own ties to China had influenced his opinions.

He said he had no business interests in China and quit serving on a bank board five years ago.

“I served on the China Development Bank board for 13 years and 10 years as chairman,” Keating said, adding that his fees, or fees, were $5,000 a year.

Keating also lambasted some reporters at the event, telling one reporter his question “is so stupid, it’s not worth an answer” and another that “you should hang your head in shame” about the recent his newspaper’s coverage of China’s perceived threat to Australia. .

“For the record, Mr Keating, we are very proud of our journalism and believe that he has made an important contribution to the national debate,” reacted the second journalist, Matthew Knott of the Sydney Morning Herald.

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