Report: Australia to Buy Nuclear Subs From US

    Report: Australia to Buy Nuclear Subs From US
    Last updated Mar 09, 2023
    Image credit: US Navy/Huntington Ingalls Industries/Handout/Reuters [via Al Jazeera]


    • According to anonymous US officials, Australia is expected to announce it will buy as many as five US Virginia class nuclear-powered submarines in the 2030s as part of the AUKUS agreement – a trilateral security pact between Australia, the UK, and the US.[1]
    • AUKUS — announced in 2021— will reportedly see at least one US submarine visit Australian ports in the coming years, and will end in the late 2030s with a new division of submarines being built with British designs and American technology.[2]
    • Next week, US Pres. Joe Biden is scheduled to host Australian PM Anthony Albanese and British PM Rishi Sunak in San Diego to discuss the details of the security pact, which reportedly aims to counter China in the Indo-Pacific region.[3]
    • Under the deal, Australia will become one of seven countries to operate a nuclear-powered submarine. The American Virginia class submarines are reportedly intended as a stopgap to provide Australia with nuclear-powered defenses until the new class of submarines is developed.[4]
    • Australia's current fleet of six conventionally powered Collins-class submarines will have their service life extended to 2036, after which they will be replaced. Nuclear submarines can stay underwater longer than conventional ones and are harder to detect.[5]
    • AUKUS will also see the countries cooperate on artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, hypersonic missiles, and undersea technologies, among other areas.[6]


    Establishment-critical narrative

    Even if it takes Australia longer than expected to build up its fleet of nuclear-power subs, China will see this as a provocation and the start of a nuclear arms race in the region. Beijing might not immediately retaliate, but this agreement will eventually see it further invest in its military and could force other neighbors to pick sides in a Cold War-style conflict.

    Pro-establishment narrative

    Australia must adopt this nuclear-powered submarine plan in order to protect the peace and stability of the region and guard against aggression from China. Its neighbors and allies should understand this deal as a peaceful one, not an act of war. In addition to defense, Australia will benefit from jobs created and technological advancements in its broader economy.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that Australia will commission its first nuclear-powered submarine by November 2036, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Establishment split



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