The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties will hold an inquiry into the agreement between the governments of Australia, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US) for the Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information (ENNPI).
The ENNPI Agreement aims to provide a mechanism for Australian personnel to access training and education from the UK and US counterparts, necessary for learning how to safely build, operate and support nuclear-powered submarines.
Following the signing of the Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information Agreement by Minister for Defence Peter Dutton and representatives from the United Kingdom and the United States this week, the committee has announced that it is now accepting submissions to the inquiry until Friday, 26 November 2021.
According to committee chair Dave Sharma MP, the agreement will help determine the optimal pathway for acquiring nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy, one of the most important strategic military capabilities for Australia in the decades ahead.
"This agreement will allow Australia to access critical naval nuclear propulsion information from the United States and United Kingdom and allow the exchange of sensitive and classified naval nuclear propulsion information with a third country for the first time," Sharma said.
With AUKUS representatives putting pen to paper to advance the deal, Australia is one step closer to securing access to highly classified nuclear technology.
The agreement aims to develop the skills necessary to establish a best practice regulatory and safety regime, ensuring Australia complies with its international obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
The exchange agreement would help inform the 18-month examination of the requirements underpinning the delivery of nuclear-powered submarines, led by the Commonwealth government's Nuclear-Powered Submarine Task Force according to Minister Dutton.
The Task Force's considerations are expected to include requirements for design, construction, maintenance, infrastructure, industry capacity, nuclear safety, environmental protection, crewing and training.
The group will also advise on building timeframes, costs and supply needs.
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“With access to the information this agreement delivers, coupled with the decades of naval nuclear-powered experience our UK and US partners have, Australia will also be positioned to be responsible and reliable stewards of this technology,” Minister Dutton added.
“… I thank our AUKUS partners for their commitment to bringing this pivotal agreement together quickly which assures continued progress for our nuclear-powered submarine ambitions and our collective efforts to ensure the Indo-Pacific remains stable, secure and prosperous, and free from coercion,” Minister Dutton concluded.
The committee is set to hold the public hearing on Monday, 29 November 2021 at 11.15am AEDT.
The program for the hearing will be made available online and the hearing will be broadcast live.
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Journalist – Defence and Security, Momentum Media
Nastasha is a Journalist at Momentum Media, she reports extensively across veterans affairs, cyber security and geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific. She is a co-author of a book titled The Stories Women Journalists Tell, published by Penguin Random House. Previously, she was a Content Producer at Verizon Media, a Digital Producer for Yahoo! and Channel 7, a Digital Journalist at Sky News Australia, as well as a Website Manager and Digital Producer at SBS Australia. Nastasha started her career in media as a Video Producer and Digital News Presenter at News Corp Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Arts, major in Media, Culture and Technology; minor in Psychology from UNSW Sydney as well as a Diploma of Journalism from Macleay College.