ACTION ALERT: Opposition Mounting to US/UK Plan for Building Nuclear Subs in Australia

September 27th, 2021 - by Anti-Bases Coalition & Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace

Opposition Mounting to US/UK Plan
For Building Nuclear Submarines in Australia

Anti-Bases Coalition

SYDNEY, Australia (September 25, 2021) — The following points have been prepared to assist in writing letters to politicians, the media, etc. and in making calls to talk radio. Please feel free to delete or add so they best fit your circumstances. Mix and match as you prefer — but start making protests … and keep going!!


The French arms deal has already cost $2 billion. It was slated to cost about $90 billion to build and $145 billion to maintain over their life cycle. What compensation the French will demand is not clear.

The nuclear submarines will be more expensive but the Government has given no figures.

The Virginia class submarine, one of the possible US or UK contenders, presently costs US$3.45 billion per vessel (about A$5 billion). To this must be added the cost of upgrading the naval bases in Australia and the cost of running and maintaining the submarines. The US and the UK firms will make considerable profits from this deal.

Paying for the nuclear submarines and other commitments will be extraordinarily expensive and will mean that other departments will be raided to finance them. Welfare, education, the environment and the important health budget will suffer. Workers’ wages, especially those in public service like nurses and teachers, will remain at an all-time low.

While military spending does create jobs, it does not create nearly as many jobs as a comparable investment in productive industry. The effect of increased military spending is to take resources out of creating products that expand economic activity and to sink them instead into the creation of tools that destroy.

Questions about where to base the submarines, what new infrastructure will be needed, how maintenance will be conducted, how nuclear fuel will be handled, and how crews will be trained, and others — and how much all this will cost — need to be answered.


Our country cannot prosper without China by simply diversifying its exports. We are a resource exporter and will never be a serious manufacturer.

Our economy is complementary to China’s, not to most OECD countries.

Australia’s sales to China exceed the total of its next four biggest trading partners. China is not a customer to fall out with unless absolutely necessary.

We run a trade deficit with the USA, because it doesn’t buy enough of what we sell.

India buys about US$10 billion of Australian exports each year versus over US $100 billion by China.


In the new cold war with China, we have opted to be in the front line.

American war games suggest it cannot win a battle with China in the South or East China Sea. Yet we have signed up for that possibility.

The US and UK are two Anglo countries that can retreat from Asia if their strategy fails. Australia can’t.

The moves are a step back to the Cold War days and will bring with them increasing repression and restrictions on unions and other community organisations

Since we have decided to integrate our navy with America’s and be its ally in confronting China, we should expect to be viewed as an extension of a nuclear superpower and be targeted accordingly.


The AUKUS agreement fuels dangerously spiraling arms races that must be reversed with common security diplomacy.

It is pushing states not involved in AUKUS to strengthen military alliances with each other (e.g. India-France).

The transfer of highly enriched uranium and related technologies to Australia may well violate the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and encourages nuclear weapons proliferation. It provides Australia with resources needed to become a nuclear power,

the nonproliferation treaty has a loophole that non-nuclear weapon states can remove fissile materials from international control for use in non-weapon military applications, specifically to fuel nuclear submarine reactors.

To make these reactors as compact as possible, they are operated with nuclear-weapon-usable highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel.

With tons of weapons-grade uranium out of international safeguards, what could go wrong?

Russia could begin new naval reactor cooperation with China to boost China’s submarine capabilities in response to the AUKUS announcement.

India and Pakistan, which already have nuclear weapons, could benefit from international transfers as well, possibly from France and China respectively.

Iran has already expressed interest in enriching uranium to HEU levels to pursue a submarine program.


The increased military competition seriously undermines the possibility of US-Chinese and broader international cooperation to reverse the existential threats of nuclear weapons, the climate emergency, and pandemics.

The strategic competition between the great powers includes the danger of a great war which will destroy the planet.


Nuclear powered submarines present a risk to the environment and the people of Australia as they can suffer accidents to the reactors and in collisions. There are already nine nuclear reactors on the sea floor from sunken nuclear submarines.

AUKUS may be a trojan horse for a nuclear power industry and even the adoption of nuclear weapons by Australia.

Military nuclear reactors in Australia would present a clear nuclear weapons proliferation risk and become potential sites for nuclear accidents and radiological contamination long into the future.”

The small reactors used to power the submarines produce weapons-grade highly enriched uranium as waste. This would undermine global efforts to phase out the use of HEU because of WMD proliferation and security concerns.

The presence of these ships in our capital cities and harbours will be a clear and present danger. Is it prudent to build nuclear submarines in a city of 1.3 million people? Green Party leader Adam Bandt has compared the move to putting “floating Chernobyls in the heart of Australia’s cities”.


It places Australia on the front line of any future war with China. It drags us into a conflict that very likely will not serve our interests. And it says very clearly, between now and then: we have chosen America.

Whatever leverage Australia might have had between the two powers is gone. Morrison will agree to pay billions getting rid of it, for a submarine fleet that will be America’s and not ours.

How can Australia assert an independent and peaceful foreign policy with a military that is so integrated into the US?

The UKUSA deal brings a further dramatic loss of Australian sovereignty and freedom of choice.

Since The Liberal Government — with no parliamentary or other discussion – has decided to integrate our navy with America’s and be its ally in confronting China, we should expect to be viewed as an extension of a nuclear superpower and be targeted accordingly.

UK peace groups point to 4 decommissioned radioactive Polaris submarines left to rust at Rosyth Dockyard 15 miles from the centre of Edinburgh. This is what being part of the UK gives the people in Scotland — treated as trash, of no consequence, used as a dumping ground,


Consortium News suggests that AUKUS “can be seen as a further indication of the nervousness in Washington, London and Canberra over the further decline of Anglo-Saxon power, which has dominated the world for the past four centuries….

“The writing is on the wall for the Anglo-Saxon powers, as it sees the world slipping through its fingers, prompting ever greater aggressiveness, rather than face economic and geo-political reality. Instead of seeking to peacefully join a multilateral world as equal partners, it is turning to ever greater military alliance to desperately try to hold onto its fading power.”


The three Governments that have signed AUKUS are the same ones who have wrecked and decimated the Middle East for the last 40 years.

The war on terror cause around 4 million deaths and produced 37 million refugees as well mountains of rubble. The women of Afghanistan have been left vulnerable and in danger after 20 years of war in that country. Yet these governments now proclaim they are interested in the peace and stability of the region.


The AUKUS deal includes the transfers of Tomahawk cruise missiles. Semi-formal rules have been agreed to with regards to missile transfers under the Missile Technology Control Regime. These rules include a “strong presumption of denial” for transfers of category 1 systems, which includes cruise missiles with a range greater than 300 kilometers; the Tomahawk has a range of at least 1,000 miles. This transfer will lessen the norm against missile-related transfers.

Under AUKUS Australia will also buy Patriot missiles and possibly Trident missiles as well.


Australia ratified the NPT in 1973, and it is also a signatory to the Treaty of Rarotonga (1985), or the South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone Treaty. These commitments are essentially trashed by the AUKUS agreement.

The creation of this new military pact threatens security in the region and makes .us complicit in dangerous regional tensions and conflict

The AUKUS alliance has already begun to disrupt relations in the Indo-Pacific. SE Asia nations have expressed discontent at the alliance — Indonesia and Malaysia have expressed strong opposition.

Significant political and military figures in India, South Korea and Japan are already asking why they have been denied these capabilities.


The alliance is causing fissures within the international diplomatic network.

Announcement of the AUKUS alliance has disastrous global strategic ramifications. The Biden Administration has again acted without consulting its NATO allies.

This fuels calls from European and E.U. leaders to create an independent European military superpower.

AUKUS has little to do with the defence of Australia. The aim is to make possible an Australian contribution to US battle plans against China which that country will view as profoundly threatening with implications also for war planning by Russia, North Korea and other nuclear-armed states.

The new military alliance strengthens the worldwide arms race.

Statement on AUKUS and Quad US Nuclear Submarine Offer
Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace

NEW DELHI (September 26, 2021) — The following statement on the recent AUKUS deal has been posted by the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP).

  1. The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP), India expresses its deep concern at the US agreement to sell nuclear submarines and Tomahawk missiles to Australia and also at the ongoing quadrilateral security dialogue of which India is a part.
  2. We call attention to the absurdity of US involvement in a security dialogue in the Asia- Pacific region. The United States has no legitimate security interests in this part of the globe and is simply looking to confront and thereby contain China, which it perceives as a threat to US hegemony.
  3. The United States finds itself unable to maintain its economic hegemony, which has been in steady decline. But US military hegemony remains unchallenged and, for decades, the United States has accounted for 40% of world military expenditure. As a declining empire, the United States seeks confrontation where it is strongest: by fostering a new arms race in the Asia-Pacific region.
    In the wake of what has happened in Afghanistan these US machinations will, as a reaction, promote a counter-alliance between China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan that worsens the prospects of peace and stability in South Asia as well as furthering a nuclear and conventional arms race in this region.
  4. The US-Australia agreement involves the sale of nuclear submarines that function using highly enriched uranium (HEU). HEU can also be used to manufacture nuclear weapons. This agreement sets a precedent for trade in HEU and therefore undermines arms-control efforts. We call attention to the hypocrisy of the United States and Australia who have previously been vocal on questions of non-proliferation when it suits their interests. It is possible that this precedent will encourage governments in India, China, Pakistan, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan and others to seek trade in HEU.
  5. The sale of US Tomahawk missiles to Australia undermines the Missile Technology Control Regime.
  6. France’s dismay at the US-Australia deal is not simply because it has lost a lucrative defence contract. France lays claim to the world’s largest exclusive economic zone (EEZ) involving large areas around islands in the South Pacific region that it thereby patrols. The EEZs of the US and Australia are the second and third largest respectively.

It is notable that all three countries involved here are either colonial states or settler-colonial states and these large EEZ’s are reminders of how they continue to exploit this legacy. This deal is an indication that ‘protection’ of their respective EEZs will be further militarised thus reinforcing the privatisation of the resources of the seas and oceans when this should be a part of humanity’s common heritage.

  • We find it deplorable that the Indian government seeks to play the role of a junior partner of the United States in these geopolitical machinations.
  • We urge the Indian government to challenge these attempts to militarize and colonize the seas. We also urge the Indian government to stay clear of the emerging conflict between the US and China and adopt an independent foreign policy.
  • As the COVID-19 pandemic reminds us, nuclear weapons and military expenditure have very little to do with the true challenges that face humanity in the 21st century. Peace, international cooperation and investment in peoples’ welfare instead of weapons serve as far better guarantors of a country’s security.

Achin Vanaik
Arun Mitra
Lalita Ramdas
N.D. Jayaprakash
Sukla Sen
Suvrat Raju