Thursday, September 16, 2021

AUKUS and the Nuclear Roo

I guess this is submarine week at CDR Salamander, because right after the Wednesday post, the Anglosphere decided to wake everyone up;

Joint Leaders Statement on AUKUS

SEPTEMBER 15, 2021


As leaders of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, guided by our enduring ideals and shared commitment to the international rules-based order, we resolve to deepen diplomatic, security, and defense cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, including by working with partners, to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. As part of this effort, we are announcing the creation of an enhanced trilateral security partnership called “AUKUS” — Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Through AUKUS, our governments will strengthen the ability of each to support our security and defense interests, building on our longstanding and ongoing bilateral ties. We will promote deeper information and technology sharing. We will foster deeper integration of security and defense-related science, technology, industrial bases, and supply chains. And in particular, we will significantly deepen cooperation on a range of security and defense capabilities.

As the first initiative under AUKUS, recognizing our common tradition as maritime democracies, we commit to a shared ambition to support Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy. Today, we embark on a trilateral effort of 18 months to seek an optimal pathway to deliver this capability. We will leverage expertise from the United States and the United Kingdom, building on the two countries’ submarine programs to bring an Australian capability into service at the earliest achievable date.

The development of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines would be a joint endeavor between the three nations, with a focus on interoperability, commonality, and mutual benefit. Australia is committed to adhering to the highest standards for safeguards, transparency, verification, and accountancy measures to ensure the non-proliferation, safety, and security of nuclear material and technology. Australia remains committed to fulfilling all of its obligations as a non-nuclear weapons state, including with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Our three nations are deeply committed to upholding our leadership on global non-proliferation.

Recognizing our deep defense ties, built over decades, today we also embark on further trilateral collaboration under AUKUS to enhance our joint capabilities and interoperability. These initial efforts will focus on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and additional undersea capabilities.

The endeavor we launch today will help sustain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. For more than 70 years, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, have worked together, along with other important allies and partners, to protect our shared values and promote security and prosperity. Today, with the formation of AUKUS, we recommit ourselves to this vision.

I remain a fan of conventional submarines and are open to arguments that in our forward deployed empire, we could find a use for them, but just look at Australia’s place in the world;

That geographic imperative screams for the range and capability that only a SSN can bring to the table.

As for the French, one has to allow that they should be upset that their previous deal went south - they lost a good deal - but the world changed and they did not help themselves in a variety of ways once Australia decided to go SSN. 

The response from Emmanuel Macron’s government was unequivocal. In the early hours of 16 September, the foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and the army minister Florence Parly issued a blistering communiqué denouncing a “decision contrary to the letter and the spirit of Franco-Australian cooperation”. The statement criticised “the US’s choice … to sideline a European partner and ally”. 

In a radio interview, Le Drian went further, denouncing “a stab in the back”. He added: “We need explanations.”

“The French seem to be in shock,” said Tara Varma, the head of the Paris office of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

The AUKUS pact just just a subset of the Five Eyes subset of the larger Anglophere, just leaving Canada and the spoiled traditionally anti-nuke posturing New Zealanders to the side. Sorry France, you are a friend, but when the going gets rough ... blood and history is stronger in the Anglosphere.

Once they decided to go nuclear, tying in to the already long standing military relationship with their fellow English speaking nations - and spot welding themselves on US-UK nuclear power relationship dating back to WWII - just makes too much sense.

One thing I hope so much for is that we make this as affordable as possible for Australia. I would hope we give it to them at cost. No reason to try to get any of the development cost whichever direction the build goes. 

Helping build the infrastructure to support nuclear submarines will benefit everyone, and especially Australia - a nation that is a natural to go nuclear power for both green energy and other reasons - something this military effort could help kickstart.

How many? Let me do a back of the bar napkin guess. Australia has 7.5% of the US population and 6.5% of our GDP. Let’s mash that up as 7%.

The USN has 50 or so SSN depending on how you measure. Let’s add the 4 SSGN and round up to 55. If you round up and normalize for population/GDP that gives your 4 SSN for Australia.

Australia spends 2.1% of her GDP on defense, and rising. That $44.6 billion is roughly 6% of the USA’s $725 billion, so that doesn’t lead me to change any numbers there.

Let’s call it four boats … but wait.

How about this as an underline?

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, U.S. President Joe Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson jointly announced the formation of a new tripartite alliance known as AUKUS on Thursday (local time), under which the first initiative will to build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy.

Make that eight. 

That, more than anything else should get your attention. There are serious things taking place as the West - and specifically the Anglosphere - is turning in to the wind coming from the Middle Kingdom.

Read the statement at the top of the post again. 

Yeah … this is a big deal. Let’s hope we do it right.

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