The US and Britain are facing criticism from their allies for signing a defence deal with Australia. US president Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the new security pact on Wednesday under which America and Britain will provide Australia with the technology to build nuclear-powered submarines. Announcing the deal, Morrison said that Australia intends to build the submarines in Adelaide in close cooperation with the UK and the US.

“But let me be clear: Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability. And we will continue to meet all our nuclear non-proliferation obligations,” Morrison added.

The surprise announcement, however, didn’t go down well with France which will reportedly lose nearly $100 billion deal to build diesel submarines for Australia. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian expressed “total incomprehension” at the announcement of the initiative, calling it a “stab in the back”.

“It looks a lot like what Trump did,” he said.

China has also reacted sharply to the new defence deal which is seen as a move to counter Beijing’s growing assertiveness in the region. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a daily briefing that the AUKUS treaty "seriously undermines regional peace and stability, intensifies the arms race, and harms international non-proliferation efforts."

"This proves once again that these countries are using nuclear exports as a tool for geopolitical games,” he said.

China is among the six countries to have nuclear-powered submarines as it continues to expand its fleet to assert its power in the Indo-Pacific. On the other hand, the United States has more nuclear submarines than all the other five countries combined, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Here’s the list of countries with nuclear-powered submarines:

US - 68 (14 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, 54 other nuclear-powered attack submarines)
Russia - 29 (11 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, 18 other nuclear-powered attack submarines)
China - 12 (6 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, 6 other nuclear-powered attack submarines)
UK - 11 (4 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, 7 other nuclear-powered attack submarines)
France - 8 (4 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, 4 other nuclear-powered attack submarines)
India - 1 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine

The latest deal will make Australia the seventh nation to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.