Australian-UK-US nuclear submarine deal exposes civilian-military links

Posted: 13th November 2021

By Andy StirlingPhil Johnstone | November 9, 2021

HMS Vengeance returning to HMNB Clyde after completing Operational Sea Training The trials were conducted in Scottish exercise areas Credit Tam McDonald Accessed via Wikipedia Licensed under OGL v10

HMS Vengeance returning to HMNB Clyde, after completing Operational Sea Training. The trials were conducted in Scottish exercise areas. Credit: Tam McDonald. Accessed via Wikipedia. Licensed under OGL v1.0.

Under the AUKUS agreement, the United States and the United Kingdom plan to transfer nuclear submarine technologies to Australia. One international security scholar characterized the deal as “a terrible decision for the nonproliferation regime,” noting grave concerns for peace and security worldwide. Others have expressed concerns about “loopholes” surrounding nuclear submarine fissile materials, increased nuclear risks in the Pacific, and a potential acceleration of an arms race in the region. Still others doubt the purported efficacy of nuclear-propelled submarine designs.

Within national borders, nuclear activities often depend on expensive access to specific skills, supply chains, regulatory and design capabilities, educational and research institutions, and waste management and security infrastructures. These dependencies are especially strong in national struggles to build, maintain, and operate nuclear-propelled submarines. The AUKUS announcement overturned normally sacrosanct nuclear secrecy on these matters. It also raised bigger questions about energy policy, climate strategies, and democracy itself.

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