US-UK submarine deal crosses nuclear red lines with Australia

Yves is here. If possible, this article downplays how bad this nuclear submarine deal is for Australia. For example, the US is forcing Australia to buy three discarded submarines. And it is hopelessly severing Australia’s once good relationship with China. I remember when I lived in Oz, the government willingly signed an LNG deal with China and then liberalized immigration rules, which greatly benefited the Chinese, who then further expanded Australia’s already overheated housing market.

Prabir Purkayastha is the founding editor of, a digital media platform. He is an activist in science and the free software movement. Produced in partnership with newsclick And traveler

The recent Australia-U.S.-UK deal to buy nuclear submarines worth $368 billion was described by Paul Keating, the former prime minister of Australia, “worst deal ever.” It obliges Australia to buy nuclear submarines with conventional weapons, which will be delivered early 2040s. They will be based on new nuclear reactor designs yet to be developed in the UK. Meanwhile, since the 2030sawaiting congressional approvalThe US intends to sell three Virginia-class submarines to Australia, with the potential to sell two more if needed.Australia-UK-US Tripartite Nuclear Submarine Partnership, March 13, 2023; shock pain). Judging by the details, this agreement obliges Australia to buy eight new nuclear submarines from the US, to be delivered between the 2040s and the end of the 2050s. If nuclear submarines are so important to the security of Australia, for which they tore up an existing deal with France for diesel submarines.this convention does not provide reliable answers.

For those who follow the problems of nuclear proliferation, this deal raises other concerns. If submarine nuclear reactor technology and weapons-grade (highly enriched) uranium are transferred to Australia, This is a violation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) joined by Australia as a non-nuclear power. Even the supply of such nuclear reactors by the US and the UK would constitute a violation of the NPT. And this is even if such submarines carry not nuclear, but conventional weapons, as specified in this agreement.

So why did Australia cancel its contract with France, which was supposed to buy 12 diesel submarines from France cost $67 billion., a small part of his giant $368 billion US deal? What does it gain, and what does the US gain by irritating France, one of its close NATO allies?

To understand, we need to see how the US views geostrategy and how the Five Eyes — the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand — fit into that larger picture. Clearly, the US believes that the core of the NATO alliance is the United States, United Kingdom and Canada for the Atlantic Ocean and the United States, United Kingdom and Australia for the Indo-Pacific. The rest of its allies, NATO allies in Europe, Japan and South Korea in East and South Asia, are centered around this core of the Five Eyes. That’s why the United States was willing to insult France in order to make a deal with Australia.

What does the US get from this deal? By promising eight nuclear submarines to be handed over to Australia in two to four decades, the US gains access to Australia to use as a base to support its navy, air force and even US soldiers. words used by the White House,“As early as 2027, the UK and US plan to establish a rotational presence of one British Astute-class submarine and up to four US Virginia-class submarines on HMAS. Sterling near Perth, Western Australia.” The use of the phrase “rotational presence” should give Australia a fig leaf that it is not offering a naval base to the US, as it would violate Australia’s longstanding position that there are no foreign bases on its soil. It is clear that all the supporting structures necessary for such rotations are at the foreign military base, so they will function as US bases.

Who is the target of the AUKUS alliance? It is clear from everything that is written on the subject and from what all the leaders of AUKUS say: this is China. In other words, it is the containment of China’s policy towards the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait as key disputed ocean areas. The positioning of US Navy ships, including nuclear submarines armed with nuclear weapons, makes Australia a frontline state in the current US plans to contain China. It also puts pressure on most of the Southeast Asian countries that would like to stay away from such a US-China contest in the South China Sea.

While the motivation of the US to make Australia a front-line state against China is understandable, it is difficult to understand what Australia’s benefit from this scenario. China is not only the largest importer of Australian goods, but also their largest supplier. In other words, if Australia is concerned about the safety of its trade through the South China Sea from Chinese attacks, most of this trade is with China. So why would China be crazy enough to attack its own trade with Australia? It makes sense for the US to get an entire continent, Australia, to place its forces much closer to China than 8000-9000 miles from the US. While they already have bases in Hawaii and Guam in the Pacific, Australia and Japan provide two anchor points, one in the north and one in the south in the eastern Pacific. This is the old-fashioned containment game that the US played with its military alliances NATO, the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), and the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) after World War II.

The problem the US is facing today is that even countries like India that have problems with China do not enter into a military alliance with the US. In particular, since the United States is now in a state of economic war with number of countries, not just Russia and China such as Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia. While India was ready to join the Quad – the US, Australia, Japan and India – and participate in military exercises, it abandoned the Quad, becoming a military alliance. This explains the pressure on Australia to partner with the US militarily, especially in Southeast Asia.

It still fails to explain what this means for Australia. Even the five Virginia-class nuclear submarines that Australia can get from used ones are subject to the approval of the US Congress. Those who follow US policy know that the US is currently incapable of a treaty; it has not ratified a single treaty in recent years on issues ranging from global warming to the law of the sea. The remaining eight are still 20-40 years away; who knows what the world will look like so far in the future.

Why, if its goal was naval security, did Australia choose questionable agreement on nuclear submarines with the US because of a reliable supply of French submarines? This question that Malcolm Turnbull asked Paul Keating, former Prime Minister of the Australian Labor Party. This only makes sense if we understand that Australia now sees itself as a cog in the US wheel for the region. And that is the vision of projecting US naval power in the region that Australia shares today. The vision is that the settler colonial and former colonial powers – the G7-AUKUS – should set the rules for the current international order. And behind the talk of international order is the clenched fist of the US, NATO and AUKUS. Here’s what Australia’s nuclear submarine deal really means.

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