US President Joe Biden (C) speaks alongside British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (R) and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (L) at a press conference during the AUKUS summit on March 13, 2023.InternationalIndiaAfricaThe trilateral Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) security pact, stipulating building a new fleet of nuclear-powered attack submarines for Canberra, was earlier slammed as “the worst deal in history” by former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating.Australia has emphatically denied it offered the US any commitment to support it in a potential conflict over Taiwan as part of the AUKUS deal.Canberra never indicated it would wade into a Taiwan status conflict in return for American Virginia-class submarines to be delivered to Australia starting in 2032, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said. When questioned on Australian television if there had been any “quid pro quo” involved with Washington on the issue, Marles responded:“The answer to that is of course not… Of course not – and nor was one sought. I’ve listened to that conjecture from a number of commentators. It is plain wrong.”“And I couldn’t be more unequivocal than that,” he added.Marles, who doubles as the defense minister, refused to be baited into speculating about a future conflict with China over Taiwan, an island governed independently from mainland China since 1949, which Beijing views as a breakaway province. He added that it was “a completely separate question.””What Australia would do or not do introspect of any future conflict would be a matter to be considered at that time by the government of the day. That is the obvious statement to make and it is the truth. Yes, nuclear-powered submarines have obviously the capacity to operate in the context of war, but the primary intent here is to make our contribution to the stability of the region, to the collective security of the region,” Marles stated.AsiaChina Warns West Not to Cross Red Line on Taiwan 13 March, 16:22 GMTRichard Marles proceeded to vehemently defend his country’s plan to acquire nuclear-powered submarines as part of the bloc founded in 2021 by Australia, the UK, and the US (AUKUS). The Australian official offered a rehash of the typical rhetoric used by Washington in relation to the alleged “China threat.” According to Marles, China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea was one of the key reasons why Australia needed to acquire nuclear-powered capability.© AFP 2023 / JIM WATSONUS President Joe Biden (C) participates in a trilateral meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (R) and Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (L) during the AUKUS summit on March 13, 2023, at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego CaliforniaUS President Joe Biden (C) participates in a trilateral meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (R) and Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (L) during the AUKUS summit on March 13, 2023, at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego CaliforniaDetails of the three-phase plan to provide Australia with conventional nuclear submarines were unveiled on March 13 after a meeting in San Diego, California, between US President Joe Biden, Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Specifically, the plan involves the deployment of at least three American and one British submarine to Australia by 2027 as a first step, as well as the creation of the necessary infrastructure and training of Australian personnel. Subsequently, Australia will receive several additional submarines from the bloc’s partners, while the ultimate goal of AUKUS is to jointly develop and build a new type of nuclear-powered, conventionally-armed submarine – dubbed SSN-AUKUS – for the UK and Australian navies. It would be based on a UK design, while utilizing technology from all three countries.AUKUS‘Worst Deal in History’: Former Australian PM Slams AUKUS Submarine Purchase16 March, 02:44 GMTThe AUKUS deal has been slammed by critics on a great many fronts. Australian National University Emeritus Professor Hugh White, a former deputy secretary of the Defense Department, told media that Canberra was to “hand over some serious dollars” to the US, along with a likely “promise” to wade into a potential future conflict with China.“This is a very serious transformation of the nature of our alliance with the United States. The US don’t really care about our submarine capability — they care deeply about tying Australia into their containment strategy against China,” Professor White said.“There is, so far as I can see, absolutely no way that any US administration would sell their scarce nuclear-powered attack submarines, of which they have fewer than they need … unless they were absolutely sure that in the event of a major conflict in Asia – conflict with China – that Australia’s submarines would be available to them,” White added.China has railed against the AUKUS deal from the outset, criticizing the trilateral pact as an alliance against China that serves as a relic of the Cold War. At a recent briefing, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the AUKUS partners had “completely ignored the concerns of the international community and gone further down a wrong and dangerous road.”He said the deal would “stimulate an arms race, undermine the international nuclear non-proliferation system and damage regional peace and stability.”China also categorically dismissed the alleged “China threat” being repeated by Washington and its NATO allies. Claims that Beijing is significantly beefing up its military forces and “bullying its neighbors and threatening Taiwan” were slammed by China as deliberately inflated, and only serving to provoke regional confrontation.WorldRussia’s Top Diplomat Warns AUKUS May Lead to Long Regional Confrontation for Years to Come 14 March, 09:27 GMTMoscow has also warned that the trilateral security pact is aimed for long confrontation with the countries of the region for many years by promoting NATO infrastructure in Asia.“The Anglo-Saxon world with the creation of bloc structures like AUKUS, with the promotion of NATO military infrastructure in Asia, is making a serious bid for confrontation for many years, because I cannot imagine how the great Asian civilizations will simply be taken under control, as, unfortunately, was the European Union, and will obediently carry out the plans of Washington and our other Anglo-Saxon colleagues,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the opening of the founding congress of the International Movement of Russophiles.