AUKUS : US, UK and Australia forge military alliance to counter China

Amarante

Well-Known member
Jun 22, 2021
435
381
La Défense, France
(theinterpreter//lowyinstitute, jun.30)
#australia defence&security france

France-Australia: Moving beyond AUKUS
A change of PM has certainly helped, and
the latest Lowy Poll suggests no enduring
damage has been done to relations.


(…)
Both French President Emmanuel Macron and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese have argued that rebuilding [the french-australian] relationship should be a priority and will meet this week.


A renewed partnership based on common interests
Beyond the obvious fact that France and Australia are natural partners in the Indo Pacific region, since after all, they are neighbours and share values and history, the Lowy Institute poll emphasises two common interests that can be used as opportunities to strengthen the partnership between the two countries.

The first one is how to respond to China’s growing influence in the Indo Pacific. As the poll identified, this is a key concern for Australians, a concern that is shared by Macron’s executive. In the past, Macron and former prime minister Scott Morrison had indirectly clashed over their approaches of how to handle China. Macron has indeed promoted the idea that China is “a partner, a competitor, and a systemic rival”, and for better or worse, this approach was deemed too weak by Morrison, who favoured like-minded and historical allies such as the United States who, in contrast to France, had more clearly identified China as a rival.

While Albanese and his government have confirmed that they would remain committed to AUKUS (and the Quad), their recent declarations on China have also shown that further cooperation between France and Australia would be possible since their approaches were more aligned than was the case under Morrison. As Defence Minister Richard Marles explained in an effort to de-escalate tensions with China, “Australia values a productive relationship with China”. Stronger cooperation between Australia and France could thus contribute to creating a balance of power in the region.

The second shared interest is climate change. As the Lowy Institute poll explained, six in ten Australians identified global warming as “a serious and pressing problem”. This issue has also been a priority of Macron’s executive. French diplomats such as Jean-Pierre Thébault have argued that the position of Albanese’s government on climate change was “truly a gamechanger”.

Such shared interests and the opportunities on offer have already been acknowledged by the Australian and French leaders, pledging in their first exchange “to rebuild a bilateral relationship [and] … to jointly overcome global challenges, among which the climate emergency and the strategic challenges in the Indo-Pacific are foremost.”


Trust, a solid foundation for renewed cooperation
Beyond these shared interests, the Lowy Institute poll pointed to an even more important element that will prove essential to rebuild the relationship: trust.

Around eight in 10 Australians trust France to act responsibly in the world, a number which has not been impacted by the tensions around AUKUS since it remains steady from 2018. Additionally, 67 per cent of Australians have expressed confidence in Macron (versus 59 per cent for Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and 58 per cent for Biden).

What about France? Throughout the AUKUS fallout, French diplomats kept arguing that the crisis was sparked by a “huge breach of trust”. As Thébault insisted, “it was not a question of money, trust was the core”. In the months that followed the announcement of AUKUS, one question remained: “Was this fundamentally a breakdown of trust between Australia and France? Or Morrison and Macron?”

Both Macron and Albanese’s governments have argued that it was the latter. They kept linking the diplomatic spat to Morrison and claimed that with him gone, there was no reason to not go back to a strong partnership. The press release following the first phone call between Macron and Albanese indeed noted “the deep breach of trust that followed the decision of the former Prime Minister Scott Morrison to terminate the future submarine program”. This was as close to an apology as it would get and this declaration – along with the “fair and equitable” payment made by Australia for breaking the contract – was enough to allow Macron and his executive to save face and move on.

As a result, while the updated France’s strategy in the Indo Pacific released in February 2022 had argued that AUKUS had sparked “a re-evaluation of the past strategic partnership”, Macron and Albanese’s governments have signalled that they would “get to work immediately” to repair the damage done.

Beyond the implications for France and Australia’s relationship, this episode reminds us of the importance of trust in international relations and begins to provide answers on how trust operates and how leaders can “function as referents for a state’s trust and trustworthiness”.
 
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Optimist

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Oct 31, 2021
512
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Australia
So your nuke subs will cost 70 billion?
At least A$70B, it was more of giving a rounded off number of 5%. It will probably go over A$100b in current year dollars.
(US pays US$35B for 10 subs )
The last gov were talking about buying 2 Virginia A$11b and build 8 locally A$44B. Then the extra cost of building in Australia. Then add the sustainment cost over the 30 year life of the program. I don't see A$100b going very far.

Even being messed up from the start over many years. I don't know if it included the costs of one PM. Who was going to buy jap subs. Or if it is only the French sub. A$3.5b isn't a devastating amount. Even out of the defence budget, it's 3% over 2 years. I don't know how much of the A$3.5b, is in assets that can still be used.
 
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Amarante

Well-Known member
Jun 22, 2021
435
381
La Défense, France
(Lowy-Institute, jul.11)

France can help Albanese fix AUKUS​

Labor faces a dilemma over nuclear-
powered subs and the non-proliferation
regime. An old partner might offer an answer.


Recently-elected Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese faces a dilemma on nuclear submarines. Having received only a single day’s notice, and wanting to avoid looking weak on China with an election looming, Albanese felt compelled last September to endorse his predecessor’s AUKUS deal to acquire an expected eight nuclear-powered attack submarines, assisted by the United States and United Kingdom.

However, Albanese also knows that buying submarines fuelled with tonnes of highly enriched uranium (HEU) – enough for hundreds of nuclear weapons – would wreck the non-proliferation regime that his party has long supported. As the UN’s watchdog agency explained last year, Australia would be “taking material away from inspectors for some time – and we are talking about highly, very highly enriched uranium.” The agency cannot say so publicly, but this means it could not detect diversion quickly enough to prevent proliferation.

US and UK submarines use uranium fuel enriched to 93 percent, identical to that in their nuclear weapons. Australia would be the first country without nuclear weapons to acquire nuclear submarines, but Iran

Albanese has three possible ways out.

First, after conducting a formal review, his government could determine that conventional rather than nuclear submarines would better protect Australia’s national security. Conventional submarines not only can be quieter but are less expensive, so Australia could buy more of them, thereby enhancing coastal defence. Although conventional submarines cannot stealthily cruise to the South China sea, the Prime Minister could cite that as a feature not a bug, since it would avoid gratuitously antagonising a nuclear-armed superpower. Domestic opponents, however, might accuse Albanese of flip-flopping on AUKUS or undermining defence-in-depth.


A second option would be to ask the United States for nuclear submarines fuelled with low-enriched uranium (LEU), which is unsuitable for nuclear weapons. If Australia pursued this LEU option, and continued to eschew domestic enrichment of uranium and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, it could eliminate the proliferation risk from its nuclear submarines – thereby setting an exemplary precedent for other countries.

China and France use only LEU fuel in their nuclear submarines, and the United States has funded research and development of LEU fuel for its own Navy every year since 2016, when the Obama administration submitted a report to Congress declaring that such fuel might work. Last month, a Congressional committee approved an eighth straight year of funding for the program. Biden administration officials told me last month that Australia and the United States have recently discussed the LEU option and that the US government is contemplating whether LEU fuel is feasible for AUKUS submarines. However, the US government cannot yet tell Australia if or when it could supply LEU submarines.


That leaves Albanese with a final option: purchasing LEU-fuelled submarines from France. Obviously, this path faces diplomatic challenges, since Albanese’s predecessor Scott Morrison violated France’s trust by secretly negotiating the AUKUS deal, scuttling an existing $90 billion contract to buy French conventional submarines. However, Australia has now settled that dispute by paying an $830 million penalty, facilitating this month’s reboot of relations between Albanese and French President Emmanuel Macron.


I travelled to Paris last month to ask French government and industry officials about the technical and political feasibility of France selling LEU-fuelled nuclear attack submarines to Australia. Technically, it appears that France not only could provide Australia with LEU submarines but could do so faster than the US or UK could supply HEU versions. France has a single production line for nuclear submarines, which is currently dedicated to producing the country’s entire Barracuda-class of attack submarines by 2032. After that, France plans to convert the line to produce its next-generation of ballistic-missile submarines, already in final design.

However, if Australia and France reached agreement, this line conceivably could instead continue to produce attack submarines, for Australia, with the first arriving around 2035. That would be a decade earlier than Australia’s Defence Minister Richard Marles recently predicted that the United States could provide a first nuclear submarine to Australia, in the mid-2040s. The UK option likely would be even slower because the Royal Navy has decided to truncate production of its current Astute-class nuclear attack submarine due to reactor safety issues, and does not anticipate producing its next class of attack submarines even for itself until around mid-century.

Under a contract with France, Australia could share in construction because French nuclear submarines are produced in modules that are subsequently welded together. This would help satisfy Australian political concerns about support for local industry, and the simultaneous manufacture of separate modules in each country would expedite production. France has extensive experience with such joint production of submarines – manufacturing conventional models with Brazil, Chile, India, and Malaysia – whereas the United States never has attempted it.

French submarines are equipped with refuelling hatches, so the time needed to remove the used fuel and insert fresh fuel is only about a week.

France also could incorporate the US combat management system, produced by Lockheed, into LEU submarines for Australia to facilitate interoperability with the US military. Indeed, France previously had agreed to do so for conventional submarines under the deal abandoned by Morrison, but it would be easier with nuclear submarines since the combat system is designed to use the higher level of power provided by a nuclear reactor.

One difference with France’s LEU submarines is that they require refuelling each decade, unlike US submarines that contain enough HEU fuel for the 30-year life of the ship. However, such refuelling would cause little inconvenience and no proliferation risk or industrial burden for Australia, since France could perform the work at Toulon as it does for its own attack submarines. French submarines are equipped with refuelling hatches, so the time needed to remove the used fuel and insert fresh fuel is only about a week. Preparatory work, including removing the reactor’s steam generator, lengthens the process to as long as four months. Australia’s submarines would also need to transit from the Pacific to France and back, adding another two months.

Thus, refuelling would require Australian submarines to be out of service for about six months every ten years. That downtime would be relatively minimal compared to the midlife maintenance that all submarines undergo, including US ones, typically requiring at least two years. Nor would reliance on French refuelling reduce the “sovereignty” of Australian submarines, as some claim, any more than relying on US software updates for the combat system or US hardware upgrades for mid-life maintenance.

Of course, a prospective French deal would need to overcome some hurdles – political, bureaucratic, legal, and financial. The French government never has exported, or even permitted formal negotiations to export, the nuclear submarine technology it considers a crown jewel of its military. Exporting nuclear submarines would require a high level of bilateral trust, which Morrison shattered and Albanese would need to rebuild.

Incorporating the US combat system would also expose signatures of French nuclear submarines to the US military
, so Paris and Washington would need to repair their own AUKUS-induced rift. The French Navy also might be reluctant to delay construction of its next-generation ballistic-missile submarines just to co-produce Australian attack submarines, which could prompt calls for construction of a second production line entailing significant capital costs that Australia might need to help finance.

Both the US and France generally refuse to take back other countries’ radioactive spent fuel, which is typically illegal and always politically unpopular.
France and Australia also would need to address legal issues, such as which country would regulate reactor safety, assume liability risks, bear responsibility for repairs, provide nuclear training to personnel, take title to the fresh fuel, and pay for infrastructure to handle the used fuel that is highly radioactive. AUKUS submarines would face similar challenges.

One difference might be the long-term disposition of radioactive waste. Both the US and France generally refuse to take back other countries’ radioactive spent fuel, which is typically illegal and always politically unpopular. Unless the US enacted an exception, Australia under AUKUS would need to dispose domestically of the tonnes of radioactive spent nuclear fuel removed from the submarines after 30 years. By contrast, France intends to reprocess used naval fuel to concentrate the high-level radioactivity, so Australia would receive a smaller volume and mass of nuclear waste, as it does when its spent fuel from the Lucas Heights research reactors is reprocessed in Europe. Interestingly, the French Navy has not yet started reprocessing its own spent fuel, so Australia might not have to take back its radioactive naval waste from France for a long time.

Albanese recently reiterated his commitment to the AUKUS deal, which entails broad trilateral military cooperation to enhance Australia’s security. However, that does not preclude complementary arrangements with other longstanding allies, and this month France and Australia pledged to “forge a new defence relationship” to “intensify security co-operation.” If the US and UK inform Australia that they cannot provide submarines fuelled with low-enriched uranium, but Albanese seeks a nuclear Navy that avoids fostering proliferation, his only alternative would be French LEU submarines. He could call it “AUKUS+1.”
 

randomradio

Senior Member
Nov 30, 2017
14,983
10,992
India
(Lowy-Institute, jul.11)

France can help Albanese fix AUKUS​

Labor faces a dilemma over nuclear-
powered subs and the non-proliferation
regime. An old partner might offer an answer.


Recently-elected Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese faces a dilemma on nuclear submarines. Having received only a single day’s notice, and wanting to avoid looking weak on China with an election looming, Albanese felt compelled last September to endorse his predecessor’s AUKUS deal to acquire an expected eight nuclear-powered attack submarines, assisted by the United States and United Kingdom.

However, Albanese also knows that buying submarines fuelled with tonnes of highly enriched uranium (HEU) – enough for hundreds of nuclear weapons – would wreck the non-proliferation regime that his party has long supported. As the UN’s watchdog agency explained last year, Australia would be “taking material away from inspectors for some time – and we are talking about highly, very highly enriched uranium.” The agency cannot say so publicly, but this means it could not detect diversion quickly enough to prevent proliferation.

US and UK submarines use uranium fuel enriched to 93 percent, identical to that in their nuclear weapons. Australia would be the first country without nuclear weapons to acquire nuclear submarines, but Iran

Albanese has three possible ways out.

First, after conducting a formal review, his government could determine that conventional rather than nuclear submarines would better protect Australia’s national security. Conventional submarines not only can be quieter but are less expensive, so Australia could buy more of them, thereby enhancing coastal defence. Although conventional submarines cannot stealthily cruise to the South China sea, the Prime Minister could cite that as a feature not a bug, since it would avoid gratuitously antagonising a nuclear-armed superpower. Domestic opponents, however, might accuse Albanese of flip-flopping on AUKUS or undermining defence-in-depth.


A second option would be to ask the United States for nuclear submarines fuelled with low-enriched uranium (LEU), which is unsuitable for nuclear weapons. If Australia pursued this LEU option, and continued to eschew domestic enrichment of uranium and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, it could eliminate the proliferation risk from its nuclear submarines – thereby setting an exemplary precedent for other countries.

China and France use only LEU fuel in their nuclear submarines, and the United States has funded research and development of LEU fuel for its own Navy every year since 2016, when the Obama administration submitted a report to Congress declaring that such fuel might work. Last month, a Congressional committee approved an eighth straight year of funding for the program. Biden administration officials told me last month that Australia and the United States have recently discussed the LEU option and that the US government is contemplating whether LEU fuel is feasible for AUKUS submarines. However, the US government cannot yet tell Australia if or when it could supply LEU submarines.


That leaves Albanese with a final option: purchasing LEU-fuelled submarines from France. Obviously, this path faces diplomatic challenges, since Albanese’s predecessor Scott Morrison violated France’s trust by secretly negotiating the AUKUS deal, scuttling an existing $90 billion contract to buy French conventional submarines. However, Australia has now settled that dispute by paying an $830 million penalty, facilitating this month’s reboot of relations between Albanese and French President Emmanuel Macron.


I travelled to Paris last month to ask French government and industry officials about the technical and political feasibility of France selling LEU-fuelled nuclear attack submarines to Australia. Technically, it appears that France not only could provide Australia with LEU submarines but could do so faster than the US or UK could supply HEU versions. France has a single production line for nuclear submarines, which is currently dedicated to producing the country’s entire Barracuda-class of attack submarines by 2032. After that, France plans to convert the line to produce its next-generation of ballistic-missile submarines, already in final design.

However, if Australia and France reached agreement, this line conceivably could instead continue to produce attack submarines, for Australia, with the first arriving around 2035. That would be a decade earlier than Australia’s Defence Minister Richard Marles recently predicted that the United States could provide a first nuclear submarine to Australia, in the mid-2040s. The UK option likely would be even slower because the Royal Navy has decided to truncate production of its current Astute-class nuclear attack submarine due to reactor safety issues, and does not anticipate producing its next class of attack submarines even for itself until around mid-century.

Under a contract with France, Australia could share in construction because French nuclear submarines are produced in modules that are subsequently welded together. This would help satisfy Australian political concerns about support for local industry, and the simultaneous manufacture of separate modules in each country would expedite production. France has extensive experience with such joint production of submarines – manufacturing conventional models with Brazil, Chile, India, and Malaysia – whereas the United States never has attempted it.

French submarines are equipped with refuelling hatches, so the time needed to remove the used fuel and insert fresh fuel is only about a week.

France also could incorporate the US combat management system, produced by Lockheed, into LEU submarines for Australia to facilitate interoperability with the US military. Indeed, France previously had agreed to do so for conventional submarines under the deal abandoned by Morrison, but it would be easier with nuclear submarines since the combat system is designed to use the higher level of power provided by a nuclear reactor.

One difference with France’s LEU submarines is that they require refuelling each decade, unlike US submarines that contain enough HEU fuel for the 30-year life of the ship. However, such refuelling would cause little inconvenience and no proliferation risk or industrial burden for Australia, since France could perform the work at Toulon as it does for its own attack submarines. French submarines are equipped with refuelling hatches, so the time needed to remove the used fuel and insert fresh fuel is only about a week. Preparatory work, including removing the reactor’s steam generator, lengthens the process to as long as four months. Australia’s submarines would also need to transit from the Pacific to France and back, adding another two months.

Thus, refuelling would require Australian submarines to be out of service for about six months every ten years. That downtime would be relatively minimal compared to the midlife maintenance that all submarines undergo, including US ones, typically requiring at least two years. Nor would reliance on French refuelling reduce the “sovereignty” of Australian submarines, as some claim, any more than relying on US software updates for the combat system or US hardware upgrades for mid-life maintenance.

Of course, a prospective French deal would need to overcome some hurdles – political, bureaucratic, legal, and financial. The French government never has exported, or even permitted formal negotiations to export, the nuclear submarine technology it considers a crown jewel of its military. Exporting nuclear submarines would require a high level of bilateral trust, which Morrison shattered and Albanese would need to rebuild.

Incorporating the US combat system would also expose signatures of French nuclear submarines to the US military
, so Paris and Washington would need to repair their own AUKUS-induced rift. The French Navy also might be reluctant to delay construction of its next-generation ballistic-missile submarines just to co-produce Australian attack submarines, which could prompt calls for construction of a second production line entailing significant capital costs that Australia might need to help finance.

Both the US and France generally refuse to take back other countries’ radioactive spent fuel, which is typically illegal and always politically unpopular.
France and Australia also would need to address legal issues, such as which country would regulate reactor safety, assume liability risks, bear responsibility for repairs, provide nuclear training to personnel, take title to the fresh fuel, and pay for infrastructure to handle the used fuel that is highly radioactive. AUKUS submarines would face similar challenges.

One difference might be the long-term disposition of radioactive waste. Both the US and France generally refuse to take back other countries’ radioactive spent fuel, which is typically illegal and always politically unpopular. Unless the US enacted an exception, Australia under AUKUS would need to dispose domestically of the tonnes of radioactive spent nuclear fuel removed from the submarines after 30 years. By contrast, France intends to reprocess used naval fuel to concentrate the high-level radioactivity, so Australia would receive a smaller volume and mass of nuclear waste, as it does when its spent fuel from the Lucas Heights research reactors is reprocessed in Europe. Interestingly, the French Navy has not yet started reprocessing its own spent fuel, so Australia might not have to take back its radioactive naval waste from France for a long time.

Albanese recently reiterated his commitment to the AUKUS deal, which entails broad trilateral military cooperation to enhance Australia’s security. However, that does not preclude complementary arrangements with other longstanding allies, and this month France and Australia pledged to “forge a new defence relationship” to “intensify security co-operation.” If the US and UK inform Australia that they cannot provide submarines fuelled with low-enriched uranium, but Albanese seeks a nuclear Navy that avoids fostering proliferation, his only alternative would be French LEU submarines. He could call it “AUKUS+1.”

There's a fourth option. License build a whole bunch of Korean subs and lease 3 Virginias from the USN.
 

Optimist

Active member
Oct 31, 2021
512
239
Australia
It's a BS article, but it won't be the last BS one written. The nuke watchdog was just in AU. We comply with our NPT. They mainly want to know about the chain of control of the nuke material. You will need to google the story. I have no desire to spend more time to counter every BS article
 

Optimist

Active member
Oct 31, 2021
512
239
Australia
I came across this story. Something I didn't know. We have already had HEU nuke material. End of story.
What is not known to many is that Australia has worked with HEU for many years in the first HIFAR reactor operated by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) that superseded the Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). The fuel used in HIFAR was gradually replaced with lower levels of enrichment and when HIFAR was replaced with the current OPAL reactor, only low enriched uranium (LEU) was required.

The Australian Labor Party (ALP), now in government, last September gave full support to AUKUS subject to three conditions: Australia would not acquire nuclear weapons; Australia would continue to ban nuclear power stations; and Australia would continue in full compliance with the International Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The AUKUS program is compliant with all three conditions. Indeed, Australia has been a full supporter of the NPT since its inception.
 
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randomradio

Senior Member
Nov 30, 2017
14,983
10,992
India
not sure that would warm australia’s relationship with both france and its aukus partners.
korea? naaa…, for a “wasp” better choose zie deutch original. japan? …errr neither

Australia is better off buying what regional powers operate in the sector.

AUKUS partners won't mind a non-AUKUS DE sub since they don't have their own offerings. France and AUKUS's main partners don't gel well with each other, which is why we see this circus in the first place. Never buy German military equipment when you plan on actually using them in wars, they can cut supplies overnight.

I'd actually say Japanese subs are the best option. AUKUS partners will be fine with that, 'cause even Japan's gonna be fighting any war Australia will. But the most realistic one is Korean 'cause the Japanese still need to get their act together. Most of the electronics will be American anyway.

Until Europe changes its posture on China, countries that plan on fighting China through an American-led alliance should not go for European tech. This includes France.

Australia also needs to prepare for the possibility that a wider war could see it being abandoned by the US for whatever reasons. During WW2, the Americans abandoned the Balkan states to the SU against Britain's wishes. It will be circumstantial, but the answer to defeating China does not lie in Australia and that's Australia's weakness.
 

Amarante

Well-Known member
Jun 22, 2021
435
381
La Défense, France
Australia is better off buying what regional powers operate in the sector.

AUKUS partners won't mind a non-AUKUS DE sub since they don't have their own offerings. France and AUKUS's main partners don't gel well with each other, which is why we see this circus in the first place. Never buy German military equipment when you plan on actually using them in wars, they can cut supplies overnight.

I'd actually say Japanese subs are the best option. AUKUS partners will be fine with that, 'cause even Japan's gonna be fighting any war Australia will. But the most realistic one is Korean 'cause the Japanese still need to get their act together. Most of the electronics will be American anyway.

Until Europe changes its posture on China, countries that plan on fighting China through an American-led alliance should not go for European tech. This includes France.

Australia also needs to prepare for the possibility that a wider war could see it being abandoned by the US for whatever reasons. During WW2, the Americans abandoned the Balkan states to the SU against Britain's wishes. It will be circumstantial, but the answer to defeating China does not lie in Australia and that's Australia's weakness.
I see. So argued, it makes sense.