In response to the news Australia will build and purchase nuclear submarines from the USA and the UK at a cost of up to $368bn between now and the mid-2050s, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s nuclear analyst Dave Sweeney said:

“The arrangement announced today will undoubtedly elevate regional tensions and increase risks for Australians and our neighbours.

“This deal introduces new and significant safety risks that Australia has never had to deal with before.

“There are risks of possible future accidents in our ports and waters, especially given nuclear regulator ARPANSA’s assessment that emergency management arrangements in Australia ‘are not fit for purpose for a future with nuclear powered submarines.’

“Pacific nations, Indonesia and others in our region have deep concerns about AUKUS.

“This arrangement further entangles Australia in the USA’s war-fighting plans.

“It raises serious non-proliferation concerns relating to access to highly enriched weapons-grade uranium and sets a disturbing precedent for imitation and escalation.

“Australia would be the only nation without nuclear weapons but with nuclear submarines. It may embolden other nations to go down this path, increasing global nuclear risks.

“There is no clarity about how the government intends to manage the resulting high level nuclear waste for the thousands of years it remains radioactive.

“As many Australians face daily cost of living pressures – and we all face the pressures of the climate crisis – this deal comes with a massive financial cost we will all bear.

“This whole process has lacked rigour or transparency and will cost Australians many billions of dollars that would be much better spent on social and environmental problems.

“ACF calls for the Albanese government to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to give the Australian public and our region a clear commitment that nuclear subs are not a precursor to nuclear weapons.

“The Prime Minister should rule out Australia facilitating or hosting nuclear weapons – ‘neither confirm, nor deny’ is not an acceptable position. Australia must not facilitate unlawful weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction.

“The PM should also rule out domestic nuclear power – nuclear subs must not become a Trojan Horse for subsidies for a deeply controversial and contaminating energy source.”

Header pic by Behan via flickr

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