Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States today signed an Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information Agreement, a key step in advancing the review into the potential for Australia to acquire conventionally armed, nuclear submarines and technology.
The agreement, foreshadowed in the AUKUS arrangement between the nations, allows the US and the UK to exchange sensitive and classified naval nuclear propulsion information with a third country for the first time, according to defence minister Peter Dutton (pictured signing today’s agreement).
Dutton said in a statement: “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.
“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 also provides 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.
Dutton said the Agreement was consistent with Australia’s international obligations, including under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Dutton’s statement said: “Australia is not seeking nuclear weapons.
“The submarines will be conventionally armed. The Agreement only allows for the sharing of naval nuclear propulsion information. No nuclear equipment can be transferred under this agreement.”
Dutton said the deal would help Australia to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to create a world-class regulatory and safety regime required for the safe operation of naval nuclear propulsion.
The Agreement was today tabled in the Australian Parliament for consideration by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.
Picture: Peter Dutton
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