AUKUS: Another step on the road to perdition – Carol Turner, Labour CND


“Supplying weapons-grade uranium to Australia puts Britain in breach of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Why is the Labour leadership backing Johnson’s military pact?”

Carol Turner, Labour CND

The tripartite military pact, AUKUS, announced by the US, UK and Australia on 15 September is being promoted by its three signatories as a ‘landmark partnership’. They have hailed it as a return to a rules-based international order in the post-Trump era. Boris Johnson describes it as promoting ‘stability in the Indo-Pacific region’.

These are brazen example of Orwell’s war-is-peace doublethink as anything you’ll find. The AUKUS agreement includes artificial intelligence, cyber warfare, and underwater capabilities, as well as long-range strike capabilities. It is a return to the American Democrats pivot to Asia and cranks up United States confrontation with China.

AUKUS has a nuclear component too. The US and UK will supply 8 nuclear powered military submarines to the Australian navy, enabling it to operate undetected underwater for longer.

As well as boosting the US presence in the region, the deal will line the pockets of US and Britism arms manufacturers and tie Australia closer to the US. Australia will be dependent on American nuclear technology and know-how to maintain these submarines, in the same way that Britain is dependent on the US for the Trident nuclear weapons system.

Facilitating Australia’s acquisition of nuclear powered-submarines puts the US and Britain in breach of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Only 6 countries in the world have nuclear powered submarines, all of them nuclear weapons powers – that’s France, Russia, China, and India, as well as the US and UK. Australia of course is not.

The NPT stipulates that an exchange of nuclear technology can only take place for peaceful purposes. The US and UK will be supplying a non-nuclear weapons state with weapons-grade uranium – the building block for a nuclear bomb. Australia has said it has no intention of building a bomb, but in future who knows?

Far from promoting stability in the Indo-Pacific, AUKUS will result in:

  • stepped up tensions with China, as can be seen already from China’s response to the announcement of the pact;
  • strained relations within the NATO alliance and among the permanent Security Council members, likely to lead to the sort of increased competitivity that could drive a new nuclear arms race. France has already struck out diplomatically at its loss of face, not to mention its $66 billion submarine deal with Australia;
  • near neighbours India and Pakistan are starting to mull over the implications for them; and
  • North Korea will be set more firmly on the path of nuclear acquisition.

In short, far from promoting stability in the Indo-Pacific, AUKUS will generate greater military tension that could contribute to another round of nuclear proliferation.

AUKUS is the next step in a new cold war with China. It makes the Indo-Pacific, and the world, a more dangerous not a more stable place.

The Labour Party in parliament is foolishly going along with this, which is why Labour CND is promoting an emergency motion to annual conference pointing out that AUKUS puts Britain in breach of the NPT which successive Labour leaders have committed to.

It’s last minute we know. The deadline for emergency motions is Thursday 23 September. It’s such an  important issue we think it’s worth a punt. If you do too, please ask your CLP to consider putting it forward.

  • Carol Turner is Co-Chair of Labour CND and author of Corbyn and Trident: Labour’s Continuing Controversy. Contact Labour CND at

Labour CND urges CLPs to consider submitting the emergency resolution below for debate at Labour’s forthcoming annual conference. Emergency motions must be received by Labour Party HQ  no later than Thursday 23 September 2021. Emergency motions should be no longer than 250 words.

Conference notes

  • the Prime Minister’s announcement on 14 September that the AUKUS military pact will see Australia develop, in collaboration with the UK and the US, a new capability of nuclear-powered submarines which will include the supply of weapons grade enriched uranium; and
  • that this is to replace the contract for non-nuclear-powered submarines which Australia placed with France, causing damage to both Anglo-Sino and Anglo-French relations. 

Conference believes

  • that this is a dangerous move which contradicts the Prime Minister’s statement that ‘this will promote stability in the Indo-Pacific region’;
  • that supplying weapons grade uranium to a non-nuclear weapons state to power military submarines is in breach of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which stipulates that exchange of nuclear technology must be for peaceful purposes; and
  • that this is a further breach of international law by this government.

Conference resolves

  • to oppose this agreement and to take appropriate moves to de-escalate the situation in support of the Labour Party’s stated aim of supporting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and
  • to take steps to repair the diplomatic damage done in the process.

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