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Former Officials Call For AUKUS Submarines To Use Low Enriched Uranium.

עודכן: 12 בנוב׳ 2021

By Justin Katz on October 06, 2021 at 2:45 PM

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told Breaking Defense that his nation must pursue a low enriched uranium submarine strategy.

WASHINGTON: In a new letter, a group of former US officials and non-proliferation experts are urging President Joe Biden to commit the United States to designing future submarines using low enriched uranium, a material capable of powering naval propulsion without the risks of being used to create a nuclear weapon.

Astute - Class Submarine

It’s the latest salvo in a newly-energized debate about what kind of uranium should be used to power military subs, one that has gained new life since Biden announced Australia would receive nuclear powered submarines under a new defense pact in September, dubbed AUKUS. The heart of that debate questions whether the world’s superpowers should transition from using highly enriched uranium to LEU to reduce the odds a hostile actor might acquire a nuclear weapon.

The AUKUS agreement, which also includes the United Kingdom, has stirred concerns from both longtime experts on the subject and world leaders, such as the former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who told Breaking Defense this week that he would encourage the use of LEU only for Australia’s new submarine.

“Australia is a non-nuclear weapon state and has a commitment to, and a massive vested interest in, the upholding of the Non-Proliferation Treaty,” said Turnbull, who is not a party to the new letter and had not seen it. “When you look at it from a non-proliferation point of view, or a management point of view or an environmental point of view, LEU is a much better proposition.”

“[T]he AUKUS deal to supply Australia with nuclear-powered attack submarines fueled with weapon-grade uranium could have serious negative impacts on the global nuclear nonproliferation regime and thereby on US national security,” the group wrote in their letter addressed to Biden, as well as National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, State Secretary Anthony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro and National Nuclear Security Administrator Jill Hruby.

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