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Australia goes nuclear – Australia to obtain nuclear submarines as part of new global alliance

Australia is set to acquire nuclear submarines as part of a brand-new trilateral agreement with the US and UK (dubbed AUKUS), the nations’ leaders confirmed this morning.

Australia is set to acquire nuclear submarines as part of a brand-new trilateral agreement with the US and UK (dubbed AUKUS), the nations’ leaders confirmed this morning.

Key points:

  • Australia is expected to become the only non-nuclear nation to possess nuclear submarine capabilities;
  • Australia, UK and US expected to undertake knowledge sharing to enable the Royal Australian Navy to attain a nuclear powered fleet, the first time such knowledge sharing has taken place in over six decades;
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that the submarines will be built in Adelaide;
  • Creation of new “trilateral security dialogue” with Australia, UK and US;
  • Naval Group expressed their disappointment with the decision, defending the capabilities of the Attack Class Submarine.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that Australia plans to build a fleet of nuclear submarines with the support of the US and UK, the PM confirmed alongside his UK and US counterparts in a press conference this morning.

The once-in-a-generation technology sharing and support agreement forms part of a new “trilateral security partnership” between the countries dubbed AUKUS.

AUKUS is a "next-generation partnership”, PM Morrison said at the conference, an alliance that supports a “world that favours freedom, respects dignity and the rule of law”.

The leaders left no doubt that the new agreement was focused on ensuring long-term stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

“The future of the Indo-Pacific will impact all our futures," PM Morrison continued, “We must take our partnership to a new level."




According to the leaders, the new AUKUS alliance will oversee widespread technology sharing agreements between the nations, including Australia's construction of nuclear submarines.

AUKUS will see new technology sharing agreements that impact "our technology, our scientists, our industry, our defence forces", the PM continued.

At the press conference, PM Morrison confirmed that the submarines would be built in Adelaide. The PM has yet to provide update on whether the commencement of this program would lead the Commonwealth to scrap the Naval-led SEA 1000 contract.

Over the next 18 months, Australia and the new AUKUS partners will be examining and researching the capabilities that Australia will require to maintain a naval fleet.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson concurred with his Australian counterpart, arguing that AUKUS fits “hand in glove to preserve security and stability in the Indo-Pacific".

All leaders explained that the multi-decade long project would be compliant with Australia's non-proliferation obligations, and that the submarines are nuclear powered and not armed with nuclear weapon capabilities.

President Joe Biden said that the information sharing agreement is critical to allow the countries to combat 21st century threats.

AUKUS will “update [and] enhance our shared ability to take on the threats of the 21st century, just as we did in the 20th century, together”, President Biden said.

“Today we take another historic step, to deepen and formalise cooperation among all three of our nations because we all recognise the imperative of ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.”

Rumours were ablaze across Canberra last night as government ministers and shadow ministers were granted exemptions to travel to Canberra to undertake late night briefings.

The invitation of Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and a handful of his shadow frontbench prompted late night discussion that the announcement was of national significance. 

[Related: PODCAST: Preparing for instability in the Indo-Pacific – Senator Jim Molan]

[Join the Defence Connect Messaging Service: https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/live-updates]

Liam Garman

Liam Garman

Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media

Liam began his career as a speech writer at New South Wales Parliament before working for world leading campaigns and research agencies in Sydney and Auckland. Throughout his career, Liam has managed and executed a range of international media and communications campaigns spanning politics, business, industrial relations and infrastructure. He’s since shifted his attention to researching and writing extensively on geopolitics and defence, specifically in North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Sydney and is undertaking a Masters in Strategy and Security from UNSW Canberra.
Australia goes nuclear – Australia to obtain nuclear submarines as part of new global alliance
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