Australia's Peter Dutton says US can provide two nuclear subs by 2030

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) – Australian opposition leader Peter Dutton reiterated his earlier claims that the US could provide Australia with two nuclear submarines by 2030, without providing material evidence that such a deal would occur.

Speaking on the national broadcaster’s “Insiders” programme Sunday (June 19), Mr Dutton said he had visited counterparts in Connecticut and “spoken with them there” about acquiring the equipment, even though the proposition has attracted scepticism, given there’s been no indication from the US that it agreed to enter a sale.

The US is “very keen to see the reality in the Indo-Pacific addressed and so I think that they would pull out every stop to support Australia acquiring the capability as quickly as possible,” he said.

Australia joined an Indo-Pacific security partnership with the US and UK in September last year, allowing it to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.

The move sparked a rift with France, which said the agreement scuppers an earlier deal Australia made in 2016 with a French shipbuilder to build up to 12 submarines.

Mr Dutton, the former defence minister, wrote earlier this month that he believed it possible to acquire “the first two submarines off the production line out of Connecticut” this decade as an alternative to waiting until 2038 for domestic manufacturing to produce the first Australian-made submarine.

When asked on Sunday what information he had based his claims on, Mr Dutton said, “I’m not going into conversations, but I formed a judgement that we could acquire two submarines quickly and I think it’s necessary that we do so.”

The US and the UK are “incredibly willing partners,” he said.

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The comments come as current Prime Minister Anthony Albanese prepares to depart for Europe later this month to attend a Nato meeting to discuss the war in Ukraine.

The trip may also involve a visit to Paris to see President Emmanuel Macron, after Mr Albanese said earlier in June he was looking forward to accepting an invitation from the French leader and that it was “absolutely vital” to reset the relationship between the two countries.