The U.S. Air Force is preparing to deploy nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to Australia amid heightened tensions with China, per MSN.
The United States is reportedly building facilities dedicated to housing the nuclear-capable bombers at Tindal Airbase in Australia south of Darwin, according to Four Corners, an Australian investigative journalism program.
Experts claim that housing the bombers at the new base in Australia is meant as a warning to China.
“Having bombers that could range and potentially attack mainland China could be very important in sending a signal to China that any of its actions over Taiwan could also expand further,” said Becca Wasser from the Centre for New American Security.
The bombers are part of an increasing military presence in Northern Australia, which includes the Pine Gap intelligence base, which has expanded and could prove vital to any conflict with China in the near future.
Thousands of U.S. soldiers routinely rotate through Northern Australia for training purposes and exercises, according to Reuters.
When asked to comment on the situation, Zhao Lijian, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, told reporters at a regularly scheduled briefing that defense cooperation should not be used to target third parties.
“The relevant practices of the U.S. side have increased tensions in the region, seriously undermined regional peace and stability, and may trigger an arms race in the region,” he said. “China urges the parties concerned to abandon the old Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow geopolitical concepts, and do more to contribute to regional peace and stability and to enhance mutual trust.”
There is some worry that housing nuclear-capable weapons inside Australia could potentially lock the country into a potential war with China.
“It’s a great expansion of Australian commitment to the United States’ war plan with China,” said Richard Tanter, a senior research associate at the Nautilus Institute and anti-nuclear activist. “It’s very hard to think of a more open commitment that we could make. A more open signal to the Chinese that we are going along with American planning for a war with China.”
China has been threatening to invade Taiwan, which it considers its territory. President Xi Jinping on October 16 refused to rule out using force to take over the country, reported the BBC.
Taiwan considers itself a distinct entity from mainland China.
In September, President Joe Biden vowed to defend Taiwan if attacked by China, going against years of official U.S. policy of deliberate ambiguity regarding the issue of Taiwan’s sovereignty.