China urges U.S., UK, Australian Nuclear Horns to stop: Daniel 7

China urges U.S., UK, Australia to stop acts of nuclear proliferation

Xinhua, June 06, 2023

BEIJING, June 6 (Xinhua) — China called on the United States, Britain and Australia to heed the concerns of the international community and stop acts of nuclear proliferation such as their nuclear submarine cooperation, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said here Tuesday.

According to reports, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a speech on Monday that “the small-scale alliance relevant to nuclear-powered submarines among the United States, Britain and Australia is becoming a concern for ASEAN and countries in the region because ASEAN is a nuclear weapon-free zone, and we oppose nuclear weapon proliferation.” He said the military alliance is the “starting point of a very dangerous arms race” and “if this situation continues, the world will face a bigger danger.”

Wang told a daily news briefing that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s remarks speak to the concerns widely shared by regional countries, including the ASEAN nations.

The AUKUS security partnership and related nuclear submarine cooperation creates nuclear proliferation risks, threatens the international nuclear non-proliferation system, undermines the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty, and undercuts ASEAN countries’ efforts to establish a Southeast Asia nuclear weapon-free zone, Wang said.

According to estimates by international arms control experts, the weapons-grade nuclear materials the United States and Britain plan to transfer to Australia would be sufficient to build as many as 64 to 80 nuclear weapons, Wang said.

He added that if the three countries are set on advancing their nuclear submarine cooperation, it is bound to deal an irreversible heavy blow to the integrity, efficacy and authority of the international nuclear non-proliferation system and trigger similar behavior in other non-nuclear-weapon states, thus turning the region into an arena of arms race.

“Such practice of seeking one’s own security at the expense of other countries’ security and plunging other countries into ‘security anxiety’ is extremely irresponsible and dangerous,” he said.

Wang said as ASEAN’s comprehensive strategic partner and friendly neighbor, China firmly supports ASEAN nations’ efforts to establish the Southeast Asia nuclear weapon-free zone.

He added that China is the first nuclear-weapon state to openly support the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone and have expressed readiness to sign the Protocol to the Treaty.

“We once again call on the United States, Britain and Australia to heed the concerns of the international community, stop acts of nuclear proliferation such as their nuclear submarine cooperation, stop undermining the international nuclear non-proliferation system by applying double standards, and stop brewing storms over the Pacific Ocean,” he said. Enditem

Australian Horn Grows Against China: Daniel 7

Artist rendering of possible design for SSN-AUKUS submarines. Image: Wikimedia Commons

AUKUS enhancing undersea deterrence against China

AUKUS building a wider distributed force posture closer to likely areas of operations vis-a-vis China’s PLA-Navy


In line with the Chinese Communist Party’s imperative to oversee “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” by 2049, US intelligence sources indicate that Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered the People’s Liberation Army to become capable of countering American military power in the Indo-Pacific and ready for a takeover of Taiwan by 2027.

This is an alarming prospect, lent credence by recent Chinese military exercises around the island. Admiral John Aquilino, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), in his March Congressional testimony said that the PLA Navy (PLAN) is on track to deliver 440 battle-force ships by 2030, including significant increases in aircraft carriers and major surface combatants.

As it grows in strength, the PLAN is likely to use its large naval forces to uphold further, even enforce, illegitimate Chinese claims over areas of the East and South China seas – areas through which foreign vessels of all kinds have rights to move under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which China ratified in 1996.

In this worsening geopolitical environment Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States have created the AUKUS submarine and technology-sharing agreement, which has been called a “trilateral, security partnership” based on defense capabilities that support “mutual national defense objectives.”

In the words of Mara Karlin, US assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and capabilities, the agreement will “lift all three nations’ submarine industrial bases and undersea capabilities, enhancing deterrence and promoting stability in the Indo-Pacific.”

Deterring indirectly

Before explaining how AUKUS facilitates “direct deterrence” from the perspective of capabilities, capacity, and force posture, it is important to identify forms of “indirect deterrence,” namely by promoting deterrence through a constellation of security alignments and the strengthening of the defense industrial base.

In the case of these latter two forms of “indirect deterrence,” AUKUS – as with the US-Japan-Australia Trilateral and the Quad – is a minilateral. Such a minilateral is not strictly an alliance, but it provides its members with a shared pool of military capabilities – or what has also been dubbed a “federated model of defense.”

Within the United States, these alignments gel with the administration’s organizing principle of “integrated deterrence,” which was laid out in the 2022 National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy, and the Nuclear Posture Review.

In addition to accelerating efforts to promote planning, coordination, and operations among various US government agencies and US allies, AUKUS also provides integrated deterrence at the level of the defense industrial base for all three cooperating nations.

While it would be a stretch to call this “undersea deterrence,” it would also be remiss not to mention the bolstering effect AUKUS will have on naval shipyards, the nuclear enterprise and undersea sensor and weapons systems industries, which all contribute to national strength.

Directly deterring from beneath the sea

Defining deterrence as the “building of combat-credible forces across all domains and across the full spectrum of conflict to deter aggression,” Karlin also noted that AUKUS is about more than just pillars I and II, but also includes a focus on undersea deterrence throughout the Indo-Pacific across a range of areas.

At the simplest level, the agreement adds to undersea deterrence by delivering new advanced warfighting capabilities to its members, particularly Australia: it provides two types of nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) platforms – the Virginia class and “AUKUS class” to replace Australia’s aging Collins-class of conventionally powered submarines.

While it is a crude measure, more vessels with long-range capabilities, amplified by the advanced weapons capacity and kinetic effects that they can deliver at greater range, may deter an adversary more effectively, in the event that it contemplates aggression.

AUKUS map: Council on Geostrategy

AUKUS thus provides all three countries with a wider distributed force posture closer to likely areas of operations, vis-à-vis the PLA Navy in the Western Pacific.

As shown in the map above, nuclear-propelled submarines greatly complicate the PRC’s calculus. They can be sent north of Australia to stalking grounds surrounding the South and East China seas, which are critical to Chinese maritime communication lines across the Pacific and to the Middle East and East Africa.

By making these routes more vulnerable to interdiction, AUKUS forces the PLAN into a more defensive posture, which may direct resources away from large warships and logistics vessels designed for expeditionary operations.

It does this through the two-part pathway framework agreed upon in March 2023. The first part of the pathway consists of increased port visits by US and UK SSNs from 2023, which adds to the ability of INDOPACOM and the Royal Navy to regularly  position forces east of the Strait of Malacca and west of the International Date Line (IDL) – a helpful softening of the tyranny of distance confronting US and UK naval forces.

The second part of the framework includes a rotational element in Australia under the Submarine Rotational Force West intended to begin by 2027. According to the Australian Department of Defense, this will be composed of “a rotational presence … of one UK and up to four US, nuclear-powered submarines” at Fleet Base West.

This is likely to draw in Astute-class and Virginia-class submarines. Again, this adds to a joint and combined campaign, allowing the three allies to synchronize joint capabilities through increased exercises and further cementing persistent forces in between the Strait of Malacca and the IDL.

Forms of deterrence provided by AUKUS

AUKUS, therefore, provides deterrence at multiple levels. The first two are forms of “indirect deterrence,” or factors that strengthen general deterrence at the state level.

  1. AUKUS provides a signal of intent – through that of political alignment – potentially muddying the calculations of a potential aggressor. This is AUKUS as a minilateral grouping, and as architecture rather than as a defense industrial deal.
  2. AUKUS provides indirect deterrence by adding to national strength by adding to the defense industrial base of each member by providing opportunities for industrial cooperation and production. It releases national resources toward shipping industries that may have previously been in decline.

AUKUS has several effects in terms of direct deterrence, too. It is helpful to use the four-point “Seize the Initiative” INDOPACOM approach to divide them:

  1. In its simplest and most direct form, AUKUS contributes to undersea deterrence by providing its members, notably Australia, with new advanced warfighting platforms (the SSNs and their systems).
  2. That these are superior systems, with longer ranges provided by their nuclear propulsion, adds to their impact on potential adversaries’ logistics and planning. As submarines can hide underwater, they are an asymmetrical weapons system, designed to threaten sea lanes and surface shipping, both commercial and military.
  3. Then there are the agreements made in March of this year, such as the two-part pathway that allows for a second direct form of undersea deterrence: that of providing those platforms in a distributed posture across the region. Whether through port visits or a more sustained presence through Submarine Rotational Force West, AUKUS brings more allied forces into the Western Pacific.
  4. Then, finally, there is the deterrent effect produced by Submarine Rotational Force West itself: that of an integrated allied operational force that ideally will operate under a combined command structure.

A potent instrument

As American, Australian, and British submariners train, exercise, and deploy, so will their operational capability and efficacy increase. They will become an integrated force capable of great strategic effect – deterrence – in the Indo-Pacific, a valuable asset for any war planner.

The question whether these six forms of deterrence will deter Xi from ordering PLAN forces to lunge across the Taiwan Strait or from undertaking coercive activity across the First Island Chain is unclear.

While they might not be sufficient– given the time it takes for these systems and structures to come on line – these nascent capabilities will complicate PLAN planning and logistics.

In the future, in any actual kinetic contingency, they will also provide a potent instrument to contain Chinese regional ambitions and military coercion.

John Hemmings is senior director of Indo-Pacific foreign and security policy at the Pacific Forum in Honolulu, which originally published this article. Asia Times is republishing it with permission.

Why the Australian Horn Wants to Go Nuclear: Daniel 7

The Virginia-class USS North Dakota submarine is seen during bravo sea trials in this US Navy handout picture taken in the Atlantic Ocean August 18, 2013.
The Virginia-class USS North Dakota submarine is seen in the Atlantic Ocean in 2013. The new deal will see Australia initially acquire three nuclear-powered submarines from the US in what is seen as Australia’s largest-ever defence plan under the AUKUS pact [US Navy via Reuters]

Why Australia wants nuclear-powered submarines

Acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines has been described as ‘the single biggest leap’ ever in Australia’s defence capabilities.

Published On 14 Mar 202314 Mar 2023

United States President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have unveiled a plan that will see Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines, allowing the country to become only the seventh in the world with such military technology.

Under the deal, Australia will buy three US Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines from the US by the early 2030s and has an option to buy two additional vessels if required.

The submarine agreement is part of what is known as the AUKUS pact — an acronym for Australia, the UK and the US — a security agreement that was announced in 2021 by the three countries and seen as a counterweight to China’s growing military presence in the Asia Pacific.

Acquiring nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS pact is expected to be Australia’s biggest-ever defence project and the acquisition has been described by the Australian prime minister as “the single biggest leap” in the history of his country’s defence capabilities.

Beijing has made no secret of its opposition to AUKUS and said this month that it “firmly objects” to the pact, accusing the three countries of harbouring a “Cold War mentality” that risks greater escalation in the region.

Australia has stressed that though their new submarines will be nuclear-powered, that does not mean they will be carrying nuclear warheads.

So why does Australia want nuclear-powered submarines, and what is involved in the deal?

A Virginia-class submarine on the dry dock at a shipbuilding yard. Its nose is decorated in the colours of the United States. There is a crane behind. It dwarfs the people that are milling about around it.
A US Virginia-class attack submarine in dry dock in Virginia, the US, in 2014 [US Navy/John Whalen/Huntington Ingalls Industries via Reuters]

Why nuclear-powered submarines?

  • Submarines can either be diesel-electric or nuclear-powered and either type can be used to launch nuclear warheads, though Biden also stressed on Monday while announcing the deal that the Australian submarines will not have nuclear weapons on board.
  • Diesel-electric submarines involve diesel engines that power electric motors to propel the vessels through the water. But those engines require fuel to operate, which necessitates that the submarines resurface regularly for refuelling.
INTERACTIVE- Types of submarines
(Al Jazeera)
  • When a submarine emerges from the deep and surfaces, it is easier to detect, diminishing its effectiveness as a weapon of stealth.
  • Nuclear-powered submarines generate their own energy source — nuclear propulsion technology — and are not as constrained by the need to refuel as diesel-electric subs. They generate steam using an onboard nuclear reactor which is used to turn the vessel’s turbines.
  • Nuclear-powered submarines can remain hidden at sea without detection — potentially for years — and are limited primarily by their supplies of food and water for crews.
  • “Australia’s submarines face long transits between ports, let alone to potential distant hot spots,” John Blaxland, professor at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University, wrote of the country’s current conventional submarines. “Advances in artificial intelligence and persistent surveillance make detection easier to the point where a short ‘snort’ to recharge batteries is detectable. To lose stealth is to lose the key advantage of submarines, so something had to give. Nuclear-powered subs can stay underwater for far longer than diesel-electric models,” Blaxland wrote in The Conversation earlier this month.

First transfer of nuclear propulsion technology in six decades

  • Compared with conventional submarines, nuclear-powered subs are usually larger and need more expensive infrastructure and maintenance.
  • The majority of submarines in operation currently are conventional diesel-electric models, which are smaller and generally cheaper to maintain.
  • Australia does not have the expertise to build its own nuclear submarines so it had to buy or acquire the ability to build its fleet from either the US or the UK.
  • Australia had originally planned to buy diesel-powered submarines in a 90 billion Australian dollar ($60bn) deal agreed with France in 2016, but it abruptly scrapped that agreement in 2021 in favour of joining AUKUS. The decision set off a diplomatic firestorm with Paris, which has just recently abated with the election of Albanese.
  • The submarines deal marks the first time US-derived nuclear submarine technologies have been shared in more than 60 years. The previous and only other time was when Washington helped London design its undersea fleet.
  • Under the plan announced on Monday, the UK and Australia will eventually produce and operate a new class of nuclear-powered submarines — SSN AUKUS — which will be jointly built in both countries and will include the latest US technologies.
  • Australia’s acquisition of nuclear submarines will place it in a group of just seven countries that have such vessels, joining the US, Russia, China, the UK, France, and India.

AUKUS and fears of a regional arms race

  • The Australian submarine deal is part of the AUKUS security agreement Washington, Canberra and London, first announced in September 2021.
  • The leaders of the tripartite pact have insisted that AUKUS is not intended to be adversarial towards any other nation. But few doubt that the alliance’s greatest concern is China.
  • But the deal has also worried some of Australia’s largest regional allies, with Indonesia and Malaysia questioning whether it could prompt a nuclear arms race in Southeast Asia and the wider Indo-Pacific.
  • All three countries have insisted the deal is defensive in nature although having nuclear-powered submarines would give Australia the capability to launch attacks or counterattacks in the event of a conflict.
  • Beijing sees the submarine acquisition as a “dangerous” provocation designed to hem China in, but analysts say it should perhaps be more concerned about future collaborative initiatives involving AUKUS, which foresees the allies working together on hypersonic missiles, artificial intelligence and cyber warfare.
  • In a joint statement announcing the deal, the three leaders said that their nations had “stood shoulder to shoulder” for more than a century to protect “peace, stability, and prosperity around the world” and also in the Indo-Pacific region. “We believe in a world that protects freedom and respects human rights, the rule of law, the independence of sovereign states, and the rules-based international order. The steps we are announcing today will help us to advance these mutually beneficial objectives in the decades to come,” they said.
  • The deal has also faced criticism in the US where the chair of the influential US Senate armed services committee, Democrat Jack Reed, warned Biden in December that selling nuclear-powered submarines to Australia could undermine US naval prowess.
  • Referencing the current “darkening clouds in international affairs”, Blaxland of the Australian National University notes that the AUKUS plan is “ambitious, costly” and not without risks. “But these are challenging times. It’s an important plank for bolstering resilience and deterrence and, in turn, reducing the likelihood of adventurism,” he says. “It’s often said that weakness invites adventurism, even aggression.”
INTERACTIVE- Nuclear-powered submarines

Boost for Australian jobs and nuclear industry

  • An Australian defence official told the Reuters news agency that the project would cost 368 billion Australian dollars ($245bn) by 2055.
  • Though the deal is worth tens of billions of dollars, experts say its significance goes beyond defence.
  • AUKUS is expected to be Australia’s largest-ever defence project and offers the prospect of creating jobs not only in Australia but in the UK and the US too.
  • Albanese said on Monday that AUKUS would create “20,000 direct jobs for Australians in every state and territory” in the country. “Already, Australian personnel are upskilling on nuclear propulsion technology and stewardship alongside British and American counterparts,” he said in a series of tweets.
  • Those jobs are expected to develop over the next 30 years, but Australia would see a 6 billion Australian dollar ($4bn) investment in industrial capacity over the next four years, Albanese said.

Autralian Horn Needs to Nuke Up: Daniel 7

A Marine helicopter conducts flight operations with Royal Australian Navy Canberra-class landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra, during Exercise Rim of the Pacific 2022. (Petty Officer 3rd Class Isaak Martinez—Australian Defense Force/AP)

Australian Assessment of Its Defense Suggests Overhaul Needed, Amid China Concern

A Marine helicopter conducts flight operations with Royal Australian Navy Canberra-class landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra, during Exercise Rim of the Pacific 2022.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Isaak Martinez—Australian Defense Force/AP



CANBERRA, Australia — Australia needs to spend more money on defense, make its own munitions and develop the ability to strike longer-range targets as China’s military buildup challenges regional security, according to a government-commissioned report released Monday.

The Defense Strategic Review supports the so-called AUKUS partnership among Australia, the United States and Britain, which in March announced an agreement to create an Australian fleet of eight submarines powered by U.S. nuclear technology

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said his government commissioned the review to assess whether Australia has the necessary defense capability, posture and preparedness to defend itself in the current strategic environment.

“We support the strategic direction and key findings set out in the review, which will strengthen our national security and ensure our readiness for future challenges,” Albanese said.

He said the review was Australia’s most significant since World War II and was comprehensive in scope. “It demonstrates that in a world where challenges to our national security are always evolving, we cannot fall back on old assumptions,” Albanese said.

The public version of the classified review recommended that Australia’s government spend more on defense than the current expenditure of 2% of gross domestic product, improve the Australian Defense Force’s ability to precisely strike targets at longer ranges and make munitions domestically.

Other recommendations include improving the force’s ability to operate from Australia’s northern bases and to deepen defense partnerships with key countries in the Indo-Pacific region including India and Japan.

China’s military buildup “is now the largest and most ambitious of any country” since the end of World War II, the review said. It “is occurring without transparency or reassurance to the Indo-Pacific region of China’s strategic intent,” it said.

The strategic circumstances during the current review were “radically different” than those in the past, said the report, authored by former Australian Defense Force Chief Angus Houston and former Defense Minister Stephen Smith.

The United States, Australia’s most important defense treaty partner, was “no longer the unipolar leader of the Indo-Pacific,” a region that had seen the return of major power strategic competition, it said.

“As a consequence, for the first time in 80 years, we must go back to fundamentals, to take a first-principles approach as to how we manage and seek to avoid the highest level of strategic risk we now face as a nation: the prospect of major conflict in the region that directly threatens our national interest,” the review said.

The government immediately plans to delay or abandon 7.8 billion Australian dollars ($5.2 billion) in defense spending to reflect new priorities.

Defense Industry Minister Pat Conroy said as part of the new priorities, an order for infantry fighting vehicles has been reduced from 450 to 129. The savings from those vehicles and the cancelation of a second regiment of self-propelled howitzers will fund the acceleration of the acquisition of U.S. HIMARS rocket systems that are proving effective in the Ukraine war.

The maximum range of the army’s weapons will be extended from 40 kilometers (25 miles) to over 300 kilometers (185 miles) and, with the acquisition of precision-strike missiles, over 500 kilometers (310 miles), Conroy said.

“This is about giving the Australian army the fire power and mobility it needs into the future to face whatever it needs to face,” Conroy said.

Questioned about Australia’s new military direction, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said Beijing’s military buildup policy is “defensive in nature.”

“We are committed to maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific and the whole world,” she said. “We do not pose any challenge to any country. We hope relevant countries will not hype up the so-called China threat narrative.”

For the past five decades, Australia’s defense policy has been aimed at deterring and responding to potential low-level threats from small- or middle-power neighbors. “This approach is no longer fit for purpose,” the review said.

Australia’s army, air force and navy need to focus on “delivering timely and relevant capability” and abandon its “pursuit of the perfect solution or process” in its procurements, it said.

Even New Zealand Will Become a Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

New Zealand was “seriously weighing the prospect” because of anxieties it might be “shut out of critical discussions by three of its closest allies”, the US, Britain and Australia. Photo: dpa

Is anti-nuclear New Zealand ‘playing with fire’ as it mulls military tech role in Aukus alliance?

New Zealand – a champion of non-nuclear security globally – wishes to contribute to the development of military technology in Aukus’ non-nuclear pillarThe country is ‘weighing the prospect’ of an Aukus role, worried it might be ‘shut out of critical discussions by three of its closest allies’, analysts say

Maria Siow

New Zealand was “seriously weighing the prospect” because of anxieties it might be “shut out of critical discussions by three of its closest allies”, the US, Britain and Australia. Photo: dpa

As New Zealand weighs becoming an associate member of the Aukus alliance, analysts have questioned if such a move would hinder its strategic goals and render the anti-nuclear state as being one to “have its cake and eat it”.

New Zealand’s new defence minister Andrew Little last month said that White House Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell had raised with him the prospect of New Zealand becoming a non-nuclear partner of Aukus – the trilateral security arrangement between the United States, Australia and Britain that would supply nuclear-powered submarines to Canberra to boost its attack capability in the event of a conflict.

Little later said New Zealand wished to contribute to the development of cutting-edge military technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing and advanced information technology in the non-nuclear second “pillar” of Aukus.

Robert Patman, international relations professor at the University of Otago, said New Zealand was “seriously weighing the prospect” because of anxieties it might be “shut out of critical discussions by three of its closest allies” on new and future state-of-the-art defence technologies in a vital geopolitical region.

He questioned if Wellington – a key actor in promoting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – could “have its cake and eat it” by championing non-nuclear security globally and yet align itself with an arrangement that seems to be stretching the limits of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Aukus deal uses a clause that allows fissile material, the key component in nuclear weapons, to be transferred to a non-nuclear state without the need for it to be inspected by the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency when it is not used for “explosive use”.

China warns Aukus against going down ‘dangerous road’ over nuclear-powered submarine pact


China warns Aukus against going down ‘dangerous road’ over nuclear-powered submarine pact

Patman said one of New Zealand’s concerns was whether being an associate Aukus member would help or hinder the country’s core strategic goals, one of which was to diversify trade away from China, where most of its exports go.

“[The other is] building a diplomatic network of like-minded states to strengthen the international rules-based order through measures like UN Security Council reform,” he said.

Patman wondered if Aukus was a “practical and credible arrangement” for countering China’s assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific, and questioned if “three English-speaking states, plus possibly another English-speaking associate member, New Zealand” could really contain China.

“What we do know is that Aukus will not be able to do anything in the short term to counter China’s designs on Taiwan,” Patman said.

Marc Lanteigne, an associate professor at the University of Tromsø in Norway, said the decision to align with Aukus could damage New Zealand’s key relationships in the Pacific Islands, where many governments were against nuclear power due to “the legacy of weapons testing”.

From 1946 to 1958, the US conducted 67 nuclear weapons tests in the Marshall Islands, forcing local residents to relocate and spawning a legacy of stillborn babies, birth defects, cancer and other health maladies.

Lanteigne said Pacific island countries are wary of the Aukus pact, especially if it leads to greater militarisation of the region.

“New Zealand cannot afford to alienate Pacific governments already concerned about the competition between China and the West spilling over and distracting from Pacific concerns about climate change and post-Covid economic recovery,” Lanteigne said.

Beijing has stepped up its diplomatic and economic outreach in the region, including signing a security deal with the Solomon Islands last year.

Former foreign minister Wang Yi conducted a 10-day Pacific tour last year, during which he proposed greater cooperation over law enforcement, fisheries planning, and the setting up of a free-trade area.

Wang’s trip prompted the US to immediately dispatch senior officials to the Solomon Islands and neighbouring countries, with US President Joe Biden hosting the first US-Pacific Islands Country Summit in September where Washington pledged US$810 million in economic aid for Pacific nations.

The region is threatened by rising sea levels, extreme weather hazards and marine pollution caused by global warming.

Lanteigne said there were also concerns that engagement with Aukus would hurt economic cooperation with China, New Zealand’s largest trade partner.

China accounts for around 30 per cent of New Zealand’s total exports of goods and services, with bilateral trade volume rising to US$24.7 billion in 2021, four times that in 2008 when both countries first signed a free-trade deal.

Geoffrey Miller, an international analyst with the Democracy Project at the Victoria University of Wellington, said there were suggestions that New Zealand could get around some of the “awkward decisions” on Aukus by having a bilateral agreement with the US on technology-sharing.

But Campbell’s visit to New Zealand and discussion with Little “behind closed doors” might have meant that an “in-or-out ultimatum” was offered to Wellington, Miller said.

“The Biden administration is very much a fan of multilateral alliances, solidarity and standing together, and from the White House perspective an opt-out for New Zealand could set a bad precedent,” Miller added.

While New Zealand may be hoping that others could make a distinction between being a full and associate member of Aukus, Miller said “this might be wishful thinking”.

“From China’s point of view, New Zealand may well be playing with fire,” Miller said, adding that a nightmare scenario for Chris Hipkins’ government would be retaliation from China coinciding with an economic recession in the months leading up to New Zealand’s election in October.

“The news that Nato has invited Hipkins to its leaders’ summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July, only adds to the complexities. New Zealand is playing a high-stakes geopolitical game,” Miller said.

Australian Nuclear Horn seriously jeopardizes peace, stability in Asia-Pacific

AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation seriously jeopardizes peace, stability in Asia-Pacific: embassy

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-04-09 13:12:16

LONDON, April 8 (Xinhua) — The United States, Britain and Australia have been pressing ahead with nuclear submarine cooperation despite being widely questioned, which creates nuclear proliferation risks and undermines the international non-proliferation system, the Chinese Embassy in Britain has said.

In response to a question concerning the trilateral Australia-UK-U.S. (AUKUS) cooperation on nuclear submarines, the embassy said on Friday that such cooperation will exacerbate the resurgence of the Cold War mentality, trigger a new round of arms race, and further provoke regional security and military confrontation, seriously jeopardizing regional peace, stability and prosperity.

The Asia-Pacific is now the most dynamic and fastest growing region in the world, which hasn’t come easily, the embassy said in a press release. “The AUKUS cooperation is designed to serve the U.S. geopolitical agenda to introduce group politics and Cold War confrontation into the Asia-Pacific with military deterrence. It is aimed at creating a NATO-replica in the Asia-Pacific, which runs counter to peace and stability in the region.”

The AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation marks the first time for nuclear weapon states to transfer naval nuclear propulsion reactors and weapons-grade highly enriched uranium to a non-nuclear weapon state, it noted.

As the current International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards system is incapable of ensuring effective safeguards, such cooperation poses serious nuclear proliferation risks, seriously compromises the authority of the IAEA, and deals a blow to the agency’s safeguards system, the embassy said.

“If the three countries are set on advancing the cooperation, other countries will likely follow suit, eventually leading to the collapse of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime,” it said.

China urges the three countries to heed the call of the international community and regional countries, discard the outdated zero-sum Cold War mentality and narrow geopolitical mindset, earnestly fulfil their international obligations and do more things that are conducive to regional peace, stability, unity and development, the embassy said.

“This serves the fundamental and long-term interests of regional countries as well as the three countries themselves,” it said. “The UK is not a country in the region and it is unwise to overstretch itself.”  ■

The Threat of the Australian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles speaks at a press conference in front of the USS Asheville, a Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine, during a tour of HMAS Stirling in Perth. The prospect of Australia acquiring nuclear submarines via the Aukus agreement has raised concerns around regional stability and global non-proliferation efforts. Photo: AAP / dpa

Why Australia’s Aukus submarine deal is a clear threat to nuclear non-proliferation

The way the submarine deal is structured sets a bad precedent of supplying a non-nuclear weapon state and NPT member with weapons-grade fuelIf the Aukus partners want to set good standards for non-proliferation, they should expand IAEA safeguards or abandon using nuclear submarine technology

Riaz Khokhar

Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles speaks at a press conference in front of the USS Asheville, a Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine, during a tour of HMAS Stirling in Perth. The prospect of Australia acquiring nuclear submarines via the Aukus agreement has raised concerns around regional stability and global non-proliferation efforts. Photo: AAP / dpa

The recently announced Aukus submarine deal between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States faces two major challenges.

First, the supply of a conventionally armed nuclear submarine to a non-nuclear weapon state and member of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is not only unprecedented but threatens the international non-proliferation regime.

Second, the trilateral deal could deepen geopolitical tensions in the region, setting the Australian navy against Chinese maritime forces in ways that would increase the nuclearisation of the Indian Ocean region and could violate Australia’s own pledge of a nuclear weapons-free zone.

The Aukus partners have said their trilateral partnership to provide Australia with a conventionally armed nuclear submarine would set “the highest possible non-proliferation standards” in ways that “strengthen the global non-proliferation regime”. To ensure this, the US and the UK would provide Australia with complete, welded power units, from which “removal or diversion of any nuclear material would be extremely difficult”.

Additionally, the nuclear material would not be in a form to produce nuclear weapons directly and instead would need further processing in nuclear facilities that Canberra does not have.

On top of that, Australia has been negotiating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to develop a “suitable verification arrangement” against the diversion of nuclear fuel.

China warns Aukus against going down ‘dangerous road’ over nuclear-powered submarine pact


China warns Aukus against going down ‘dangerous road’ over nuclear-powered submarine pact

China warns Aukus against going down ‘dangerous road’ over nuclear-powered submarine pact

But nuclear experts have warned that instead of the highest possible non-proliferation standard, the US was on its way to setting a bad precedent of supplying a non-nuclear weapon state and a member of the NPT with weapons-grade fuel. The nuclear material could remain outside IAEA safeguards for as long as the nuclear submarine remains on patrol.

During that period, it would be impossible for the IAEA to ensure the nuclear material is not removed or diverted for military applications. Some members of the IAEA such as China and Indonesia have argued that the Aukus partners have been less transparent and kept their negotiations with the IAEA private.

Some experts have said the IAEA needs to involve interested member states in these negotiations to reach uniform, non-discriminatory principles regarding the application of safeguards on nuclear submarines.

Another problem is that the IAEA is bound by its statutory obligations to ensure its assistance “is not used in such a way as to further any military purpose”, but the definition of “non-proscribed military activity” or “non-peaceful activities” is unclear. The Aukus partners cannot themselves assume the connotations of these terms and privately negotiate the application of safeguards without the input of other interested IAEA members.

Indonesian political and military officials see the Australian nuclear submarine capability as meant for war and the Aukus pact as a smaller Nato. Since a nuclear submarine could use weapons-grade fissile material, they suggest its use of Indonesian sea lanes could be blocked as it could violate the Asean nuclear-free zone.

What to know about Australia’s Aukus subs and why it’s causing anxiety in Asia16 Mar 2023

The US is expected to provide three of its Virginia class fast-attack nuclear submarines to Australia by the early 2030s. One of the pillars of the Aukus agreement is to provide Australia with a range of defence capabilities, including hypersonic and counter-hypersonic weapons systems to increase interoperability among the US allies.

It would be the first time the US provided a conventionally armed nuclear submarine to a non-nuclear member state of the NPT. Worse, in terms of damaging the global non-proliferation regime, Washington would follow an earlier precedent of Russia’s provision of nuclear submarines to India.

These plans appear to show that Australia could provide US forces with a “protective screen” to attack Chinese targets in the event of conflict and reinforce the US Navy’s strategy to deter Chinese nuclear capability in the region.

For a non-nuclear weapon state and member of the NPT, acquiring or developing an armed nuclear submarine is not the right way to go about doing that. China is not the only country with nuclear submarine capability in the Indo-Pacific. The US and India also operate submarines in the region.

Two Chinese nuclear-powered Type 094A Jin-class ballistic missile submarines are seen during a military display in the South China Sea on April 12, 2018. Photo: Reuters

While China and the US are NPT member states and nuclear powers, India is a non-NPT state. This would be the first time a non-nuclear weapon state and a member of the NPT would operate a nuclear submarine utilising what have been called “grey areas” around IAEA safeguards.

In addition, the US is planning to deploy its B-52 bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons on a rotational basis at the Royal Australian Air Force base at Tindal in the Northern Territory. There are concerns this move could have severe implications for the Treaty of Rarotonga that establishes the South Pacific nuclear-free zone.

Australia faces tough task soothing Asia anxieties over Aukus subs: analysts17 Mar 2023

If the Aukus partners want to set the best standards for the global non-proliferation regime, they would be better served to extend the IAEA safeguards to any submarines on patrol to ensure that the agency’s oversight does not stray from the nuclear material at any point. Alternatively, they could shelve the nuclear submarine technology and explore other options with similar military capabilities and features.

The IAEA would also have to address these issues and ensure the transparency and participation of all member states in these negotiations.

The concerned member states would do well to provide solutions to these problems in general terms, not just those specific to Australia, and sideline geopolitics to set a uniform, non-discriminatory criteria for all non-nuclear weapon states and members of the NPT.

Riaz Khokhar is a research associate at the Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS) and a former Asia Studies visiting fellow at the East-West Centre in Washington

The South Korean Horn is Ready to Nuke Up: Daniel 7

A supermajority of South Koreans want nukes: polls

Seoul has long promised it wouldn’t pursue nuclear weapons, but public opinion threatens to change that.

MARCH 6, 2023

Written by
Connor Echols

Two-thirds of South Koreans want their country to develop its own nuclear weapons, according to a recent survey from South Korean newspaper Hankook Ilbo.

The chastening finding comes amid years of rising tensions on the Korean peninsula that threatened to boil over into a crisis last year. North Korea carried out a record number of ballistic missile tests in 2022, a practice that South Korea and the United States responded to with unprecedented military drills of their own. 

Now, Pyongyang is reportedly considering carrying out its first nuclear test since 2017, and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol recently suggested that Seoul could pursue nukes of its own.

“It’s possible that the problem gets worse and our country will introduce tactical nuclear weapons or build them on our own,” Yoon said. “If that’s the case, we can have our own nuclear weapons pretty quickly, given our scientific and technological capabilities.”

While Yoon’s comments may seem odd to an American audience, they reflect a growing trend in South Korean politics. Over the past decade, public support for acquiring nuclear weapons has hovered between 60 and 70 percent, hitting a high of 71 percent in a 2022 survey from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

And the country’s political leaders are starting to catch up with public opinion. As Nathan Park recently noted in RS, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon — a leading member of Yoon’s conservative party and a possible future presidential candidate — said South Korea needs “an ‘active nuclear umbrella’ or its own nuclear weapons,” and Daegu mayor Hong Joon-pyo said that denuclearization of the peninsula has become “impossible.”

For now, all this talk has yet to turn into a shift in policy. In an interview with CNN, Han Duck-soo, South Korea’s prime minister, acknowledged the broad public support for nuclear proliferation but said such a move is not “the right way” to deal with North Korea.

“We have built up a quite adequate level of our deterrence capabilities in close cooperation with the United States,” Han said. “We would like to let North Korea know that developing and advancing nuclear capabilities will not guarantee the peace and prosperity in their country.”

Notably, South Korean public opinion on nuclear weapons has largely followed the tone of U.S. policy in the region. When former President Donald Trump attempted a diplomatic opening with Pyongyang in 2018, only 55 percent of South Koreans reported wanting Seoul to pursue its own nuclear arms program — the lowest result since at least 2010.

But tensions with China — a nuclear-armed neighbor and ally of North Korea — have also played a key role. South Koreans who support a domestic nuclear weapons program largely said it was necessary to deal with threats other than Pyongyang or to boost Seoul’s standing in the international community, according to a 2022 poll from the Chicago Council.

‘Wake-up call’: Top Republicans sound alarm over Chinese nuclear horn: Daniel 7

Chip Somodevilla/AP Photo

‘Wake-up call’: Top Republicans sound alarm over China’s nuclear expansion

Connor O’Brien

Tue, February 7, 2023 at 11:25 AM MST·3 min read

Top Republicans on Capitol Hill are raising alarms over news that China has surpassed the U.S. in its number of launchers for land-based nuclear missiles — and arguing for the U.S. to expand its own arsenal to keep pace.

Four GOP leaders on the House and Senate Armed Services committees said the revelation about China’s nuclear capability, made in a Jan. 26 letter from the top commander of U.S. nuclear forces, is a warning that Beijing’s arsenal is expanding faster than anticipated, though the U.S. still has more warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

“This should serve as a wake-up call for the United States,” said House Armed Services Chair Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Senate Armed Services ranking member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo) and Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) in a joint statement. “It is not an understatement to say that the Chinese nuclear modernization program is advancing faster than most believed possible.

“We have no time to waste in adjusting our nuclear force posture to deter both Russia and China,” the lawmakers said. “This will have to mean higher numbers and new capabilities.”

Lamborn and Fischer are the top Republicans on the Armed Services subcommittees that oversee nuclear weapons programs.

The head of U.S. Strategic Command, Gen. Anthony Cotton, told lawmakers in a letter dated Jan. 26 that the U.S. retains a larger inventory of ICBMs and nuclear warheads, but that China has exceeded the U.S. in the number of fixed and mobile land-based launchers for those missiles. The Wall Street Journal first reported the letter.

The information came in response to a December letter from Republicans Rogers, Lamborn, Fischer and then-Senate Armed Services ranking member Jim Inhofe.

The revelation is likely to only further fuel uproar in Washington over Beijing, after a Chinese surveillance balloon traversed the U.S. before it was shot down last week.

Biden administration officials are set to brief the full Senate on the balloon on Thursday. The House is also likely to soon get briefed, leaders say. And House Republicans are weighing a resolution condemning China for the flap.

China’s military modernization, including its nuclear capabilities and a potential invasion of Taiwan, have been an early focus for Republicans.

House Armed Services held its first hearing Tuesday on the threat posed by China. During the session, Rogers broached the ICBM launcher news and warned of China’s nuclear expansion, urging the U.S. to act immediately to deter Beijing.

“The [Chinese Communist Party] is rapidly expanding its nuclear capability. They have doubled their number of warheads in just 2 years,” Rogers said at the outset of Tuesday’s hearing. “We estimated it would take them a decade to do that.”

The U.S. is undertaking a long-term overhaul of all three legs of its nuclear arsenal as well as fielding new weapons introduced under the Trump administration’s 2018 nuclear blueprint.

Low-yield warheads have been deployed aboard ballistic missile-carrying submarines. Congress has also preserved funding to develop a new sea-launched nuclear cruise missile that the Biden administration sought to cancel.

Nancy Vu contributed to this report.

Chinese Nuclear Horn Uses US Technology: Daniel 7

WSJ News Exclusive | China’s Top Nuclear-Weapons Lab Used American Computer Chips Decades After Ban

1/29/2023 5:05:00 PM

China’s top nuclear weapons lab has bought and used American chips in its research despite being blacklisted by the U.S in 1997

The Wall Street Journal

China’s top nuclear weapons lab has bought and used American chips in its research despite being blacklisted by the U.S in 1997

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