As part of the AUKUS initiative with Australia and the US, the UK has given three UK businesses a 4 billion pound ($4.9 billion) contract to design and build an attack submarine powered by nuclear energy.
- Established in 2021, the AUKUS is intended to be a strategic partnership among Australia, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States to bolster their allied deterrence and defense capabilities in the Indo-Pacific.
- The trilateral partnership, which builds on their decades-long security cooperation, has two pillars.
- Pillar I revolves around the acquisition and development of conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy;
- Pillar II calls for collaboration on advanced capabilities that will involve technology and information sharing;
- What is the submarine component?
- It is designed to equip Australia with nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs).
- In total, Australia will end up with eight of the new nuclear submarines, called SSN-AUKUS.
- Those submarines will be based on a British design but have American technology or an American combat system.
- The deal marks the first time the US has shared nuclear propulsion technology with an ally other than the UK.
- It will significantly enhance Australia’s undersea capabilities in the Indo-Pacific.
- These countries, however, made it clear that their aim is not to arm the new submarines with nuclear weapons. This is because Australia is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), which bans it from acquiring or deploying nuclear weapons.
Q1) What is the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT)?
The NPT is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament. The Treaty represents the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States. A total of 191 States have joined the Treaty, including the five nuclear-weapon States. India is one of the only five countries that either did not sign the NPT or signed but withdrew, thus becoming part of a list that includes Pakistan, Israel, North Korea, and South Sudan.