23 September 2021

Nicholas Stuart: “What could possibly explain last week’s sudden and abrupt decision to throw the project overboard and substitute a vague promise of embarking on a new build in two year’s time? Defence analysts increasingly believe the only way to make sense of the move is to see it as the first step in the creation of an independent nuclear deterrent.” In other words, Australia is preparing to break its anti-nuclear proliferation commitment and arm up with nukes to threaten our neighbours. “The key is in the vessels themselves. … Perhaps most crucially, they can also be fitted with nuclear warheads. … [O]wning this sort of submarine is a game changer. It opens up options Scott Morrison (and, perhaps more particularly, defence minister Peter Dutton) are well aware of, and are probably seeking. Perhaps this is the vital background to why the French project was abandoned. … [T]he shift can’t be explained away as simply an acknowledgement that Australia’s submarines need to be nuclear-powered. If this was the only requirement, talks would have already begun with the French, who produce highly sophisticated nuclear vessels. Indeed, we’ve been working hard to convert one of their nuclear subs to a conventionally powered boat, so swapping in a new engine block would have been simple. The only way to make any sense of the move is to understand it as, quite possibly, the most significant strategic decision Canberra has made since the second world war, wedding the country decisively to a US/UK alliance and catapulting Australia into the ranks of potentially nuclear-armed states.”