The real risks of the Australian submarine deal by Gareth Evans

The new AUKUS deal does not mean, as some Australian commentators have claimed, that the country has finally “sided” against China. Australia’s main security relationship is with the United States, and its main economic relationship is with China – and there’s no reason to change that now.

MELBOURNE — World-class hyperbole has been generated by Australia’s new AUKUS technology-sharing agreement with the United States and the United Kingdom. Our plan to acquire, in particular, at least eight nuclear-powered submarines, thereby canceling a massive agreement with France to build 12 conventionally-powered diesel submarines, has fueled an outcry at home and abroad. the stranger.

For some in the anti-nuclear movement, the AUKUS deal poses the greatest threat to nuclear non-proliferation since the breakup of North Korea. For the Australian Greens,Floating Chernobylsare about to blow up our port cities. For anti-China hawks, it’s champagne time: AUKUS represented a “vital bulwark against an angry and authoritarian Communist China”. For China foreign ministryit “seriously undermines regional peace and stability, escalates the arms race and undermines the Non-Proliferation Treaty” and, for China’s media wolf warriors, it makes Australia “a potential nuclear war target.” For France, which has withdrawn its ambassadors from the United States and Australia, it is another brutal “stab in the back” from treacherous Albion and the Anglosphere. And for Australia – in the words of two former prime ministers, no less, who should certainly focus our minds – it may mean a “another dramatic loss of sovereigntyin the United States anda slippery slopewhich ends with “a prior commitment to become an active belligerent against China in a future war.”

It’s time to catch your breath and focus on what is perfectly defensible in the AUKUS agreement, what is problematic and what needs further clarification before we can accept it. Technical and political risks are involved, and it is important to disentangle them.

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