AUKUS nuclear submarines pact sparks international concern

AUKUS nuclear submarines

26th March 2023 – (Sydney) The recent announcement of the AUKUS nuclear submarines pact by Washington, London and Canberra has caused international concern. Despite objections from the international community, the three governments have pushed forward with their unilateral approach, disregarding the potential risks to nuclear proliferation and the harm it could cause to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. The signing of AUKUS has marked the first time in history that nuclear weapon countries have transferred naval nuclear propulsion reactors and weapons-grade highly-enriched uranium to a non-nuclear nation, which is a severe non-proliferation risk.

The IAEA member states have called for open, transparent, inclusive and sustainable intergovernmental discussions at the agency to address the AUKUS issue. Former Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating, has labelled the deal as “the worst international decision by an Australian Labor government”. The three governments’ claim that they would abide by nuclear non-proliferation commitments has been criticised, as the current IAEA safeguards system is not powerful enough to ensure effective supervision and prevent nuclear materials from being used in seeking weapons.

The AUKUS deal has set a dangerous precedent that may weaken the deterrence of IAEA safeguards and make nuclear proliferation more likely. As such, all IAEA member states need to work together to keep intergovernmental discussions in place, find a way to resolve the safeguards issues and firmly defend the international non-proliferation regime to safeguard global peace and security. It is essential that the three governments do not put their own geopolitical interests above international laws and regulations or the interests of other countries. Instead, they should wait until a broad consensus is reached before implementing the AUKUS pact.