The administration of US President Joe Biden has begun talks to speed up construction of Australia’s first nuclear submarines, as guaranteed by the Ocos defense deal.

The Wall Street Journal, citing Western officials, said the United States wants to build Australia’s first group of nuclear submarines and provide it with a fleet by the mid-2030s “in response to China’s growing military power.”

The paper added that the US recommendation has yet to be formally approved, but a final decision on the matter is expected in March.

The report also highlights the challenges the US will face in completing the mission, including the need to raise billions of dollars to expand its submarine manufacturing capacity and secure Australia’s contribution to support those efforts.

Australia entered into a joint defense agreement with the United Kingdom and the United States in mid-September last year in a new partnership called “Ocos” and announced its withdrawal from a €56 billion submarine deal with Naval Group France.

The agreement with France called for the production of 12 Barracuda attack submarines, and then French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called Australia’s decision to break the agreement a “stab in the back”.

But officials said earlier this month that Australia and France are strengthening their defense cooperation and deepening diplomatic ties as they try to overcome a deep conflict over a submarine contract that angered Paris a year ago.

For its part, the Russian Defense Ministry considered that the orientation of the Okos alliance towards the development of a nuclear submarine fleet in Australia is a dangerous trend and creates conditions for undermining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Russia expressed support for China’s initiative to include the issue of the transfer of nuclear materials within the framework of the Okos alliance on the agenda of the meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, since it considers the transfer of marine nuclear reactors to a country without nuclear weapons a “problem”.