Home Asia Pacific AUKUS partners sign nuclear propulsion tech sharing agreement

AUKUS partners sign nuclear propulsion tech sharing agreement

Defense minister Peter Dutton signs the agreement, with US Chargé d’Affaires Michael Goldman, and British High Commissioner Victoria Treadell at Parliament House in Canberra. Photo: Australian defense ministry

The United Kingdom, United States and Australia have signed the Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information Agreement that will enable Australia to acquire a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines after walking away from a deal with France earlier this year.

Australian defense minister Peter Dutton said the agreement would further advance consultations by permitting the UK and the US to exchange sensitive and classified naval nuclear propulsion information with a third country for the first time.

Australia revealed its decision to cancel its contract with France for the delivery of 12 conventionally-powered attack submarines in September this year, opting instead for its first ever purchase of nuclear-powered submarines.

“This agreement will support Australia in completing the 18 months of intensive and comprehensive examination of the requirements underpinning the delivery of nuclear-powered submarines,” minister Dutton said.

“The United Kingdom and the United States will be able to share naval nuclear propulsion information with Australia, which they cannot with any other country, in the determination of the optimal pathway to acquire nuclear-powered submarines for operation by the Royal Australian Navy.

“With access to the information this agreement delivers, coupled with the decades of naval nuclear-powered experience our UK and US partners have, Australia will also be positioned to be responsible and reliable stewards of this technology.”

The agreement will also provide a mechanism for Australian personnel to access training and education from their UK and US counterparts, necessary for learning how to safely and effectively build, operate and support nuclear-powered submarines.

The agreement was tabled in the Australian Parliament for consideration by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties on Monday. It is also subject to the domestic processes of the United States and the United Kingdom.

“I thank our AUKUS partners for their commitment to bringing this pivotal agreement together quickly which assures continued progress for our nuclear-powered submarine ambitions and our collective efforts to ensure the Indo-Pacific remains stable, secure and prosperous, and free from coercion,” minister Dutton said.