AUKUS and Nuclear-Powered Subs: Take a Breath

Since the September 2021 announcement of the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) partnership entailing a “trilateral effort of 18 months to seek an optimal pathway” to help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines, experts opposed to such acquisition have made grave predictions about it. When I first heard the announcement, I was unconcerned. While nuclear-powered submarines in a non-nuclear weapon state’s possession would be unprecedented, safeguards—technical measures implemented by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)—are designed to ensure that sensitive nuclear technology is not diverted toward the manufacture of nuclear weapons. As these measures are in place for Australia, I saw no need for concern. What has raised concern is the alarm over AUKUS from a small but vocal minority of countries, clearly driven by geopolitics rather than safeguards.


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