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Group.png AUKUS  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Interest ofDonald C. Winter
Membership• Australia
• United Kingdom
• United States
Acronym for trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, where Australia is to buy nuclear submarines.

AUKUS is an enhanced trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, which was announced on 15 September 2021 by President Biden, Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison.[1]

Nuclear Submarines

The first major initiative under AUKUS is Australia’s acquisition of at least eight nuclear-powered submarines which have superior characteristics of stealth, speed, manoeuvrability, survivability, and almost limitless endurance, when compared to conventional submarines. They can deploy unmanned underwater vehicles and can also carry more advanced and a greater number of weapons. These abilities allow nuclear-powered submarines to operate in contested areas with a lower risk of detection.[2]

These characteristics are not much different from modern diesel-electric submarines, except they are more expensive. Australia will get 8 nuclear subs instead of the 12 French ones[3]. The change also means further delays. Australian Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, who had been briefed on the change, spoke of “by 2040”.[4]

Speech by Scott Morrison

PM Scott Morrison speaks after AUKUS submarine announcement

In an hour-long speech, Australian PM Scott Morrison said:

"We intend to build these submarines in Adelaide, Australia, in close cooperation with the United Kingdom and the United States.

"But let me be clear: Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability.

"And we will continue to meet all our nuclear non-proliferation obligations."[5]



The French government reacted angrily to Australia’s decision to abandon a £43bn deal for French submarines in favour of the AUKUS security pact, which will see Australia scrap its 2016 agreement with French shipbuilder Naval Group to build a new fleet to replace its ageing Collins submarines.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s foreign affairs minister, claimed the move was a “stab in the back” from Australia, telling Franceinfo:

“We had established a trusting relationship with Australia, and this trust was betrayed.”[6]

France withdrew its ambassadors to the US and Australia in protest.[7]

Regarding the United Kingdom, "recalling our Ambassador to London was not necessary because we already know that the British government is in a logic of permanent opportunism", said French diplomat Pierre Morcos.[8]


In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian condemned the move and said:

"The US, the UK and Australia's cooperation in nuclear submarines severely damages regional peace and stability, intensifies the arms race, and jeopardises the international efforts in promoting the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

"The US and UK's action of exporting highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology once again proves that they are using nuclear exports as a tool for geopolitical games and adapts double standards.

"This is a highly irresponsible act."[9]

Stop the War

Stop the War condemns the new partnership as an unnecessary and provocative step which will heighten tensions with China and increase the possibility of hostilities breaking out in the region. We note that US officials have briefed that the UK government has been pushing hard for strong military involvement in the region as part of its push towards ‘Global Britain’.

Stop the War convenor Lindsey German says:

"This new partnership can only ratchet up what is already an alarming Cold War with China.

"Twenty years on from the start of the War on Terror our leaders seem to have learnt nothing about the disasters that are generated by foreign military intervention.

"We in Stop the War will be campaigning relentlessly against the push towards military confrontation with China which can only have the most terrible consequences."[10]