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Kuperman on U.S. and U.K. Sale of Nuclear-Powered Submarines to Australia

Nov 23, 2021 |

Alan J. Kuperman, Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar and Associate Professor of Public Affairs at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, recently published a Kyodo News op-ed titled “Bomb-grade uranium for Australian submarines?” After noting that Japan eliminated a substantial stockpile of nuclear weapons-grade highly enriched uranium (HEU) in 2016 on nonproliferation grounds, his opinion piece highlights the recent U.S. and U.K. announcement of a deal to sell Australia eight nuclear-powered submarines fueled by a significantly larger amount of such weapons-grade HEU. Kuperman indicates that the AUKUS deal would set a dangerous precedent that could reverse decades of progress to eliminate global HEU use. Kuperman argues that other countries seeking nuclear submarines, including South Korea and Iran, could insist that they too require HEU fuel. He says that such requests would “open the floodgates to weapons proliferation” due to a loophole in international safeguard agreements that allows countries to block inspections of their naval fuel. Kuperman closes by listing three alternatives that Japan’s new Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, can suggest to his allies during the AUKUS 18-month consultation period. Read the full article here.

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