AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation threatens global stability

China Military Online
Li Jiayao
2022-07-21 16:50:49
US Ohio-class strategic nuclear submarine. (File photo)

By Zhao Xuelin, Song Yue and Zhao Chang

The US House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces will pass the Australia-US Submarine Officer Pipeline Act in a few coming days, according to reports in early July, which will allow the Australian Navy to send officers to participate in the US Navy nuclear submarine officer training course every year and have internships in US nuclear submarines to familiarize themselves with the relevant operating procedures.

Since 2021, the US, the UK, and Australia have single-mindedly advanced nuclear submarine cooperation despite the impact inflicted upon the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, seriously threatening world peace and security. This dangerous and despicable act, incompatible with the trend of the times for peaceful development and win-win cooperation, is contrary to the aspirations of regional countries and has been generally resisted by the international community.

In March this year, statements by Australia’s Prime Minister and Defense Minister suggested that a new submarine base would be built on the east coast of Australia to dock the country's future nuclear submarines while ensuring regular visits by US and British nuclear submarines. In April, the leaders of the US, the UK, and Australia issued a statement announcing that the three countries' nuclear submarine cooperation had made important progress in several aspects. Recently, the US House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces has actively promoted the Australia-US Submarine Officer Pipeline Act to promote further substantive progress in nuclear submarine cooperation among the three countries. The US, the UK, and Australia have gone too far in terms of nuclear proliferation by going their own way and making mistakes again and again for their group's self-interest.

The AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation seriously undermines and tramples on the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and will have a more adverse impact on the already precarious international nuclear arms control situation.

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) clearly stipulates the nuclear non-proliferation responsibilities and obligations of nuclear weapons and non-nuclear weapons states. The crux of AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation is the transfer of tons of weapons-grade nuclear materials by the US and the UK, the two nuclear weapons states, to Australia, a non-nuclearweapons state. This obviously violates the purpose and aim of the NPT. The three countries have avoided this basic fact and even tried to confuse the public. At the same time, the AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation directly violates the relevant provisions of the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on ensuring that the assistance provided under its supervision or control is not used for any military purpose. The weapons-grade nuclear materials, nuclear submarine equipment, and related technologies that the US and the UK intend to transfer to Australia obviously involve military purposes, which poses a great challenge to the current support and supervision system of the IAEA.

Australia is also a party to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone (SPNFZ) Treaty, known as the Treaty of Rarotonga,which stipulates the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the South Pacific region. The parties to the treaty promise not to place or test any nuclear explosive devices in the region, nor to dump radioactive waste and other radioactive materials. However, the AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation will once again shroud the South Pacific region under the haze of nuclear proliferation.

For many years, the US, the UK, and Australia have called themselves leaders in international nuclear non-proliferation efforts. However, facts have proved that these three countries are the real proliferators, and their extremely irresponsible behavior will inevitably bring many unfavorable factors to regional security and stability.

The AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation not only brings the danger of nuclear proliferation but may also stimulate other countries to acquire nuclear weapons, which will pose a huge threat to world peace and stability. The US, the UK, and Australia should seriously reflect and change course as soon as possible. They should not go further on the road of nuclear proliferation, not become the destroyers of the global non-proliferation system, and not go against the trend of the times. At the same time, the international community should also act to jointly safeguard the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and international peace and security.

(The authors are from the China Institute of Nuclear Industry Strategy.)


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