China: AUKUS Submarine Deal Poses Risk to Global Security

The AUKUS nuclear submarine deal poses a serious risk to regional and global security, according to a joint report released on Wednesday by a Chinese and a Russian think tank at a seminar here.

The report, called “The AUKUS submarine deal: risks for the nuclear non-proliferation regime and global security”, was published by the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association and Russia’s Center for Energy and Security Studies.

Under the trilateral AUKUS alliance, announced in September 2021, Australia can build nuclear-powered submarines with technology provided by the United States and the United Kingdom.

The AUKUS deal involves the transfer of up to four tons of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium from the United States and Britain, two nuclear-weapon states, to Australia, a non-nuclear-weapon state.

“The AUKUS strategic military cooperation is unprecedented and goes against the goals and spirit of the NPT (Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons), may inflict severe damage on the international non-proliferation regime and the NPT itself,” says the report.

The AUKUS submarine cooperation “exploits an important lacuna of the non-proliferation regime and reduces political and moral barriers to nuclear proliferation,” it adds. It also poses challenges to the safeguards system of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), according to the report.

“Possible attempts of behind-the-scenes discussions between the parties to AUKUS and the IAEA Secretariat can lead to the politicization of the Secretariat and erode the overall trust in the IAEA,” the report notes.

The AUKUS deal, “rooted in a U.S. model of ‘Great Power Competition’,” brings fresh uncertainties to regional and global security by stimulating some non-nuclear-weapon states’ interest in nuclear weapon options and prompting arms race and possibly nuclear submarine arms race, says the report.

It says the IAEA member states and the IAEA Board of Governors should be involved in ensuring a reliable and effective arrangement for the AUKUS deal in favor of the NPT and non-proliferation regime.

It also calls on all countries to uphold the international non-proliferation regime, specifically to address the risks of the AUKUS deal through open and inclusive dialogue and cooperation.

More than 80 delegates, including researchers from the two think tanks and diplomats, attended the seminar. It was held as a side event at the ongoing first meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the 2026 Review Conference of the Parties to NPT.