Media Release: Nuclear-powered submarines dramatically increase proliferation risks.

Mar 14, 2023 | News

MEDIA RELEASE: “Nuclear-powered submarines dramatically increase proliferation risks.”

14th March 2023

In response to the AUKUS announcement that Australia plans to acquire nuclear-powered submarines from the US and the UK in a multi-stage plan, Nobel Peace Prize recipient ICAN Australia said: 

 “Acquiring nuclear-powered submarines using highly-enriched uranium (HEU) is both a major proliferation risk and could be seen as a precursor to Australia acquiring nuclear weapons. The clearest signal that Australia could send to our region and the world that this is not our intent, is to sign and ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). 

“Regardless of which nation’s model, Australia’s acquisition of submarines fuelled by HEU undermines our commitment to non-proliferation. It goes against Australia’s past support and actions to reduce use and stocks of HEU, and negates Australia’s support for a proposed Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. 

“The particular capability of the planned submarines is to support the US in a war in northeast Asia. Whether with China, North Korea or Russia, there is an alarming risk of any such war escalating to use of nuclear weapons.

“Nuclear-powered submarines, and their bases, would become high priority targets for conventional or nuclear attack from adversaries. We don’t need to escalate regional tensions with highly-enriched uranium powered submarines. 

“If Australia acquires nuclear-powered submarines it must unequivocally commit never to develop nuclear weapons, nor host another nation’s nuclear weapons. These are red lines we must not cross. The most effective assurance we can give would be to sign and ratify the UN TPNW.”

Further information: ICAN Australia: AUKUS briefing & Troubled Waters publication.