Nuclear Submarines: Who Will Get Them Next? - Multilateral Dialogue Vienna
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One element of the recently formed AUKUS (Australia-UK-US) alliance is to equip the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) with US-made Virginia-class nuclear-powered general purpose (attack) submarines (SSNs) with conventionally-armed Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missiles (TLAMs). The NPT and related IAEA nuclear safeguards contain a “grey area” and “loophole” allowing non-nuclear-weapon States to withdraw or exempt naval nuclear fuel and reactors from IAEA safeguards, thus creating a gap in coverage and loss of continuity of knowledge about large quantities of weapon-grade uranium in the naval nuclear fuel cycle. Brazil, Iran, South Korea, Japan and others in the future may also decide to acquire SSNs? How will the IAEA deal with the “non-application of safeguards on non-peaceful/non-proscribed military activities”, what are the implications of the spread of SSNs armed with cruise missiles to non-nuclear-weapon States, what are the implications for the NPT and strategic stability – these and related issues will be examined by experts in the field.
Rear Admiral John Gower CB OBE: Director of Mimir Consulting, served until his retirement in December 2014 as Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Nuclear, Chemical & Biological) in the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD). Previously, he had spent nearly half his 36-year military career at sea, culminating in the sequential command of two globally deployed submarines. He spent 17 years in the MoD dealing with UK nuclear weapon and counter-CBRN policy; and represented the UK in senior relevant NATO committees. He is a Consulting Member of the IISS; and a Senior Adviser to the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) through which he is involved in transatlantic efforts to reduce the risks of nuclear conflict, including an urgent need to limit and ban nuclear-armed cruise missiles. He publishes with CSR, the European and Asia-Pacific Leadership networks and others – details are on the Mimir website (https://www.mimirconsulting.co.uk/home).
Sharon Squassoni: Research Professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University. She has held senior positions in nuclear non-proliferation and policy planning at the US State Department, US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and the US Congressional Research Service. Her research, writing and policy-making have focused on reducing risks from nuclear energy and weapons for three decades. She is on the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the PIR Center and the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation. Author: "Fear, Loathing, and Nuclear Disarmament," Current History, January 2018; and, “Through a fractured looking glass: Trump’s nuclear decisions so far,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 30 October 2017, among others.
Moderator (and Panelist) - Tariq Rauf: Member Board of Directors of Atomic Reporters and Canadian Pugwash; is former Head of Verification and Security Policy, Alternate Head of the NPT Delegation, International Atomic Energy Agency; and was a member of the Eminent Persons Group for Substantive Progress on Nuclear Disarmament convened by the Foreign Minister of Japan. He has been an Expert Advisor with Canada’s NPT Delegations and Parliamentary Committees on Foreign Affairs and on National Defence. Co-author: Opening Pandora’s Box: Nuclear-Powered Submarines and the Spread of Nuclear Weapons (Canadian Centre for Arms Control and Disarmament, 1988); author: “Australia’s Nuclear-Powered Submarines Will Risk Opening a Pandora’s Box of Proliferation”, Global Outlook, Toda Peace Institute, 19 September 2021, among others.