Aukus’ nuclear submarine deal will be “too big to fail,” says Richard Marles

<span>Photo: Richard Wainwright/AAP</span>” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/” datasrc1″ “–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/″/></div>
<p><figcaption class=Photo: Richard Wainwright/AAP

Australia’s nuclear submarine deal with the US and UK is fast becoming ‘too big to fail’, the deputy prime minister has said.

Speaking in an interview with Guardian Australia’s politics podcast, Richard Marles hinted at the idea that the decades-old Aukus plan could be vulnerable to political shifts in both the US and UK.

He also predicted that broader diplomatic efforts to stabilize Australia-China ties would continue “largely unaffected by the announcements later this week.”

Related: Could a torpedo in the shape of Donald Trump sink Australia’s $368 billion Aukus submarine plans?

As Secretary of Defense, Marles was at the center of Aukus planning. He said he felt the “heaviness” and “responsibility” of the far-reaching staged plans announced this week that envisage Australian spending of up to $368 billion by the mid-2050s.

A point of contention was Australia’s pledge to provide $3 billion in funding over the next four years to subsidize the submarine manufacturing base in the other two countries, primarily the US, and what guarantees there were that the US would actually co-operate would proceed with the sale of three to five Virginia-class submarines to Australia in the 2030s.

Asked what contracts or agreements are behind the high-level political commitment announced in San Diego this week, Marles said the project is “a joint effort by the three countries.”

“There’s going to be a legal basis for that … and there’s going to have to be a treaty-level document between our three countries, so there’s a whole lot of legality that’s going to be worked through,” Marles said.

“But in many ways this goes beyond that [given] the sheer size of the decision to share that capability with Australia. And having taken this step that we have taken, all three countries are in a position where it is too big for any of these countries to fail.”

Marles said all three countries were “deeply committed to each other’s success on this project” and that gave him “a sense of security that this will go the way we want it to.”

“This has to work for the US, this has to work for the UK, just like it has to work for Australia,” he said.

Despite Beijing’s heavy criticism of the Aukus deal this week – which has included labeling it a Cold War-era pact that would be dangerous for the region – Marles said Australia’s quest for a productive relationship with China continues.

“China is obviously investing in its own defense capabilities; we’re doing that in relation to us,” he said.

“In terms of the relationship between our two countries and the way we speak and engage with each other, I really think the project of trying to stabilize that is going ahead.”

Marles also addressed questions about whether submarines could become obsolete, as an Australian National University report, Transparent Oceans?, found that scientific and technological advances predicted that by the 2050s the oceans would be “probably” or “probably” very likely” would become transparent.

“Just as much effort is put into illuminating the seas, so much effort is put into creating more camouflage around a submarine,” Marles said.

“One could turn the question around and say: how confident are we that by 2050 the veil of the seas will be lifted so that we no longer need submarine capabilities?” Well, that would be a negligently risky call by an Australian government.”

Marles said the fact that many countries were investing heavily in submarines showed they would be “really useful pieces of military capability for decades to come.”

“But precisely because there are efforts to light up the sea, a submarine capability based on a diesel-electric propulsion system will be a comparatively diminishing capability in the second half of this decade and into the 2030s because more of that.” one will be able to see.”

Related: Nuclear subsidies, tax cuts or money to raise unemployment – what would you spend Australian tax money on?

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons said this week that the best way for Australia to reassure the region over the submarine plan is for it to sign and ratify the UN treaty banning nuclear weapons.

It is Labor Party policy to do so, but only “after considering” several factors, including the need for an effective verification and enforcement architecture and working to win universal support from other nations. Nuclear-weapon states, including the US, have opposed the treaty, arguing that it is not keeping pace with the current security environment.

Marles said Australia wanted “a world without nuclear weapons” and had sent observers to Vienna for the first meeting last year.

“A meaningful contribution to the elimination of nuclear weapons must involve the commitment of countries that have nuclear weapons,” he said.

“We totally understand the intent, and we agree with it… but what the treaty needs to strive for is universality in terms of the countries that sign it, so that’s the problem.”

The full interview with Richard Marles on Guardian Australia’s politics podcast is published on Saturday morning


Show More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button