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United Nations’ nuclear organization alarm over AUKUS, could trigger race for nuclear submarines

The United Nations’ nuclear organization has sounded the alarm over Australia’s plan to obtain nuclear-powered submarines.

Under a trilateral deal between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States dubbed AUKUS, Australia will be given nuclear-propulsion technology for submarines.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) set up a task force to look into the deal’s unprecedented naval nuclear propulsion program, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

IAEA Chief Rafael Grossi said during a visit to Washington that he had tasked the special team with monitoring security and safety regulations regarding the deal. He warned that the “very tricky” decision to construct nuclear-powered submarines raised severe proliferation and legal concerns.

The IAEA director general said the Agency reserved its legal right to pursue its role to monitor the deal and create specific safeguards to guarantee international security within the framework of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

“Now we have to have particular agreements to guarantee whatever they obtain technology-wise or material-wise, it is under safeguards… Now we have to dot the Is and cross the Ts, which has by no means been carried out before, and it is a very, very demanding process,” Grossi told reporters on Tuesday.

He said the possibility can’t be excluded that other nations would use the AUKUS precedent to pursue their own nuclear submarine development programs.

Critics of the pact say the deal to bolster Australia’s naval power with nuclear technology is a hostile military move by the West aimed at both China and Russia.

Nikolay Patrushev, the Secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said last month that the AUKUS alliance was a military pact targeting Russia and China. He warned that the venture put the entire security architecture in Asia at risk.