Australia’s nuclear fallout

The FT sums up the strategic importance of the new subs deal:

China’s geopolitical ambitions face a formidable new challenge after the US agreed to help Australia build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines and supply it with long-range Tomahawk missiles, regional officials and analysts said.

The agreement, part of a new trilateral security partnership that also includes the UK, will allow Australia to project power across the western Pacific.

In its previous calculations, China’s military only had to contend with possible interference from the US and Japanese navies as it sought military dominance over its near seas, especially in the waters around Taiwan.

Admiral Lee Hsi-ming, a former chief of the general staff of Taiwan’s armed forces, said on Thursday:

“Nuclear [powered] submarines give Australia strategic deterrence and attack capabilities for the first time.

“They will be able to not just protect their own sea lanes of communication but deploy far from home. Add to that the Tomahawk missiles, and [Australia’s] fist will reach right to mainland China.”

There’s more this morning:

American ships, bomber planes, satellites and military base personnel will all have a significantly increased presence across Australia in a new era of co-operation, designed to ensure an enhanced level of “match fitness” in the Indo-Pacific.

On the heels of the newly-announced AUKUS alliance between Australia, the United States and United Kingdom, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton announced a significant ramp-up in military presence due to the deteriorating Indo-Pacific situation characterised by rising coercion from China.

The China roaches are scattering as Australia’s new force posture irrevocably chooses all the way with the USA.

Leading the startled arthropods is Paul Keating:

“There is no doubt about the Liberals: 240 years after we departed from Britain, we are back there with Boris Johnson, trying to find our security in Asia through London.”

“The announced agreement between the United States, Britain and Australia for Australia to move to a fleet of US-supplied nuclear submarines, will amount to a lock-in of Australian military equipment and thereby forces, with those of the United States with only one underlying objective: the ability to act collectively in any military engagement by the United States against China.”

Well, an advisor to the China Development Bank would say that, wouldn’t he?

Tony Abbott was supportive and Malcolm Turnbull hedged his bets.

Meanwhile, the miners were self-serving, as usual. Thankfully, nobody is listening to them anymore:

A mining industry group backed by Rich Listers Andrew Forrest, Gina Rinehart and Chris Ellison fears China will respond to Australia’s new defence pact with trade sanctions that could harm the mining sector.

Damn right it will. And thank god for it:

In a scathing rebuke on Thursday evening, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian labelled the US “extremely irresponsible” and rejected Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s claim that Chinese leader Xi Jinping had an “open invitation” to restart political talks between the pair.

Canberra was “solely responsible for the current difficult situation”, he said, suggesting the US could be in breach of existing nuclear deals by sharing technology with Australia.

Speaking through a translator, Mr Lijian said the deal “seriously damages regional peace & stability, intensifies arms race, undermines non-proliferation treaty and that “the international community, including neighbouring countries, have good reason to question Australia’s sincerity”.

The UK & US are using nuclear exports as a “geopolitical gaming tool”, which Mr Lijian described as “extremely irresponsible”.

“China will closely monitor the situation,” he said.

The further away we get, the faster, the better.

The left is actually pretty quiet about it so far, except Crikey, which is downright creepy:

With AUKUS, Australia has signed up for a fate more than a century in the making, set to be caught in the drift of globalised arms races and race wars, big and small.

Only a racist would see this in terms of race. It’s liberalism defending itself against illiberalism, which is a progressive thing to do. Australia is already multicultural.

There’s lots more guff around the place but most of it is the usual tribalist cheerleading.

Bravo, I say! Morrison finally got something right on purpose.

Houses and Holes
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  1. Mining BoganMEMBER

    I have a question.

    So say we’re turning away from China as a trading partner and looking for some non-threatening types to deal with. Old mate Scummo rocks up to a meeting only to met with “Oi, aren’t you the bloke who lied to the French ponce about the subs at the G7 meeting?”.

    Who’s gonna trust us outside of the Poms and the Yanks?

        • True, but the Bogan’s point is still good. The complicating factor is that the subs deal was rotten from the start, dictated by local political interests, not those of the country.
          Edging away from China is one thing, but this deal is vague as, Bro: and who wants to trust gaga Scomo to do anything other than cuddle up to the nearest powerful figure?

    • Every man and their dog knew that deal was épouvantable.
      Everyone knew we had to ditch it.

      Oh and hey Pyne! FU!!!!

    • Short CapitalismMEMBER

      Add Japan losing face to the original botched sub contract. And withdrawing from Afghanistan without looking after those who helped us. Burning bridges with locals all the way to entire countries.

    • On the contrary, Naval Group (DCNS) has had its reputation destroyed by the Future Submarines debacle.

      I predict it will be a very long time before another nation state engages Navel Group as a partner to build national defence assets. No doubt they’ll change their name again soon as part of their efforts to get away from the smell.

  2. Scotty from Marketing has been planning this for months.
    This explains all the anti-china rhetoric coming out of him for the past year or so.
    He’s a genius.
    And he’s got kahuna’s. Shorten never would have done this. Turnbull as too scared, so went for the dud French deal.

    • That’s what I was thinking yesterday, what would Albo or any letter leader done? And the only answer was kept us with a wholly inadequate subs (& defence all around) paying more than double the initial price for subs that were pointless to have. We know how China operates, they do it bit by bit. They have openly stated their aims beyond the island chains. To whit, they have been trying to secure a deep water port in the indo pacific, on the pretense of a commercial port, then they will bribe/blackmail or use debit to turn base into a military one, little by little. You can’t trust dictators and Xi’s actions & broken promises in SCS prove this.

      Albo or any Labor PM (and most Lib ones too) would leave us a legacy we’d never recover from with the whole of SE Asia and western pacific under Chinese control, they would extend their law over the while area, you’d need to inform their navy every time you left an Aussie port just as they are demanding now in the SCS. Fkn ScoMo actually making sense & even making me think I shouldn’t put him behind Albo! Choice of corruption or security! 😭

  3. The subs are of minimal threat to China, as there will only be a few of them, and being Australian at least 80% will be getting repaired at any time. In addition the subs are only as good as their weapons they carry and considering the US is likely to insist they carry tomahawk missiles which China can easily defend against then they are not going to be particularly good as an attack platform. The French subs we were getting were a conventional version of the nuclear subs France uses, so it would have made more sense just to upgrade to those. Especially since they only cost about 1.3 billion euros each and run off less enriched form of uranium that would be easier for Aus to process. Most of the additional cost of the French subs was due to the difficulties of converting from nuclear to conventional propulsion in the first place.
    Here is an interesting article on the debacle:

  4. Paul Keating is 100% correct : Australia have now picked a side, and it’s not with the Chinese. We’ll be dependent on the US for the next 50 years at least. I don’t think ScoMo have thought this through : nuclear subs and nuclear capabilities comes as a pair, and he has started Australia down the road to joining the nuclear club.

    Time to make a raffle on where Australia’s first nuclear power station will be built.

  5. Again thank you US/Scomo for locking in Lab to this course. Makes it even easier to preference Lab over Libs.

    Keating knows its going to be extremely difficult if not impossible to walk this one back which is why he is squealing like a pig.

  6. I dislike Morrison and his gov but on this issue alone I will vote for him – and so will many Australians I suspect – despite f^koff to Hawaii, rapegate and vaccine rollout disaster etc! If only Labor had half a strategic brain. Now they are wedged into a khaki election race.

        • They will, but the point is they would never have done the deal. Though no doubt there is plenty of time for them to water it down or reduce the scope in the coming decades if they listen to their old grey beards wheel are struck in a pre Xi era.

          • ” They will, but the point is they would never have done the deal. Though no doubt there is plenty of time for them to water it down or reduce the scope in the coming decades if they listen to their old grey beards wheel are struck in a pre Xi era.

            You don’t know any of this for certain. The sub deal needed a complete overhaul for good reasons (All the LNPs fault) and the pressure from Beijing has even driven some that were previously very anti US into the US’s arms (eg: look at the Philippines under Duterte for example). So you’re in no position to say what they would or would not do.

            Arguing for more autonomy (which is how I characterise Labor’s position) is not silly. The kind of blind fealty the LNP serves up is what got us into Iraq. Our interests are served by pushing back against China but, it’s going to take a lot more than nuclear subs and long range missiles to avoid a conflict which will most likely have far greater costs for us than the US.

            Europe has a long history of hosting US forces to counter Soviet aggression but, they soon came to realise what that meant. Once Petra Kelly had unpacked the US military strategy against the USSR (ie: winning a limited nuclear war in Europe) the Greens became a huge force in European politics for good reasons. Reagan was a fanatical anti-communist and were it not for the level-headed leadership of Gorbachev and others in Europe it could have ended very badly for US allies in Europe.

            Biden has done a good job thus far overall but, Presidents change and so do their priorities. So you need to have some strategic wriggle room or you can end up in a bind that’s not in your interests. No doubt China has forced this on us all but, you need to realise there are very serious consequences that are now becoming more likely. The kind of binary “tribalist cheerleading” I see here at times actually serves no useful purpose.

    • Doesn’t really make sense. Lab can’t walk this one back without seriously pissing off US/UK. Which they are unlikely to do – especially when Albo and members of the shadow cabinet were also part of the meeting and haven’t criticized the deal only the waste/mismanagement of the sub deals so far – which they do have a point.

      I’m happy to preference Lab above Libs to get the corrupt mob out now that its much harder to pivot to China/away from the US.

    • Camden HavenMEMBER

      Yes Scummo has looked into the future and evaluated the possibilities, correctly in my opinion. The lead time on the Subs shows that it is the correct and timely decision.

      Chyna has 50 years to mellow if that wish to, but not at all likely.

    • 100% this.

      “I don’t hold a hose mate” (true, but as a firey I though this was especially tone deaf from our ‘national leader’)

      “It’s not a race”

      The debacle that is the Federal handling of quarantine after such a promising start with shutting borders.

      On the nuclear submarine issue alone I am willing to forgive all of the above.

  7. I’m thinking rule #1 for the Americans is don’t fight on home soil and we will be the forward land based carrier group. I assume Perth will now be made into a US nuclear sub base under the guise of training up our punters until we get the goods. This is probably wise to protect the Pilbara ports. What is weird is the massive mutual economic dependency of iron ore between Aust and China. Cutting off supply would quickly cripple China’s industrial complex n tank our house prices!

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      Hey, if we have US warships in Perth and Chinese warships at their wharf in Darwin and they start launching nukes at each other, will the wasteland left between stop the advance of cane toads into WA?

    • Why do we need to protect the pilbara from China when 90% of what leaves those ports is heading to China anyway?

      • The #1 strategic asset for China is the Pilbara which they could quickly take and continue that supply (though maybe Sydney is worth a look give the value of all that RE).

  8. Oh the left aren’t all quiet about it – Adam Bandt has been making a total fool of himself (as usual), this time calling the subs ‘floating Chernobyls’.

  9. We are seeing a classic Lynton Crosby – Dragging a dead cat across the argument, moment.

    Scotty’s (and H&H’s) positions on China could come from the Karma Sutra. Scotty is using the Chinese threat as a way to divert attention away from the LNP’s very poor performance.

    When he gets serious about money laundering through real estate and casinos, maintaining Australia’s sovereign interest in its own land and resources, and the fact that the Chinese (and sub-continent) vote now has the balance of power, I will take some notice.

    • SnappedUpSavvyMEMBER

      its hard to get your head around isn’t it. maybe he likes how they treat muslums
      its why no one watches the stupid show

  10. What a great distraction. This is the Scrotums forte’.
    The pity is that to win an eleciton he has made Australia a nuclear target in the process of distracting the voters from his disasters and bungling.
    This is about more than 8 subs, this is the US militarisation of Australia.
    “American ships, bomber planes, satellites and military base personnel will all have a significantly increased presence across Australia …”
    We are not moving away from China as H&H thinks, we are shirt fronting them.
    The Scrotum has made Australia a US proxy, and that is how the Yanks like to fight their wars, in somebody elses patch.
    80% of us live in 6 major population centres along the southern and eastern coastlines. The prevailing winds blow from West to East, in the event of war breaking out 6 nukes take out our population and the winds carry the radioactive fallout into the pacific leaving a depopulated continent for the taking.
    What is it about Conservative politicians that they love War so much ? We have only this month disentangled ourselves from 20 years of fighting ( and losing) in Afghanistan, that we turn around and take on China . It is endless, but it has taken the ever increasing Climate disaster and Covid off the front pages.

    • If China were to nuke Australia, do you really think the US would sit and do nothing? The US ‘could’ be next and therefore a strike on Chine would be required. The whole point of nuclear weapons is they are deterrent and so no nuke will be fired.

      • Going on the USA’s previous actions, like setting Scomo up to tackle the Chinese and generating the trade war which led to China refusing to take our barley, wine lobsters, coal and beef, the USA then stepped in and supplied China with it’s Barley, wine lobsters , coal and beef., the yanks would occupy the vacant continent for themselves. The Americans don’t have friends , they have interests

      • If China were to nuke Australia, do you really think the US would sit and do nothing?

        Why would they risk retaliation if not directly attacked ?

    • Yes, a lot of political theatre here. The US is 12 to 18 months behind on their own Virginia class subs let alone building the guts of some for us. This is mainly to get Morrison and Johnson over the line in their respective elections. We have had a big part in the Mark 48 Mod 7 torpedos so maybe that will be our part and the attendant sacrificial drones that these wandering torpedos will require.

      These are offensive weapons but 8 boats means 2 in the line at any one time……not something China will worry about especially since the supply lines for these are already stretched.

      Say 15 years before anything comes of this unless we buy Astute Class from the UK

      • The rule with carriers and boomers was 1:3 IIRC: one deployed, one training/working up and one in maintenance. In time of need the training crew could be surged so you end up at 2:3.

        If we buy 9 that gives us a surge of 6 boats, assuming the same rotation works for attack boats.

  11. Excuse me if I struggle to sympathise with the French after Australia sacrificed almost 70,000 of our young and healthy men- virtually a couple of generations of our finest – to defend and liberate France a couple of times. Then they rewarded us by testing Nukes in the Pacific and murdering Kiwis in their home country in a terrorist attack because the French were offended that their right to pollute the Southern Hemisphere with radioactive fallout was unwelcome.

    So now they’re upset because the contract they’d failed to meet themselves has been binned ?

    Did I miss something?

      • rob barrattMEMBER

        To be fair, the cost overrun was due to the fact we had to remove the built in surrender modules that cause the sub to surface with a white flag flying if it detects a hostile incoming.

  12. This whole decision feels like a captain’s pick from Morrison. It has all the hallmarks – secrecy, financial mismanagement, lack of planning & consultation (was there a Defence white paper?), wasting taxpayers dollars, pissing off existing clients to annoy China and grovel at the feet of the US/UK (those “superior” white Anglophone countries). And best of all – being the big military boss and wedging Labor close to an election. What’s not to like?

    And don’t forget less than a year ago we had the madman Trump as President. No guarantees it won’t happen again.

    • US power is in decline. Who but an idiot would tether us to them closer than ever, now? And put us offside with every other nation in the region?

      This is petty politicking by our PM, with his eye on the election. Nothing more.

      In 18 months they will come to the ‘realisation’ that Australia simply cannot support, crew, or afford the SSN option. At that point I hope we realise unmanned underwater vehicles are the future, not lumbering behemoths.Failing that, have we pissed off both the Japanese and German options?

      If this were for a real threat we would be buying something conventional, direct from overseas right away.

      An SSN in 2040 is going to miss their war.

      • The French are mighty pissed off with Australia, US and UK. Not to mention China. This deal is destabilizing global alliances and has not improved global or Australian security at all.

  13. All we need now is a nuclear powered desalination plant in South Australia providing water for Adelaide and the Western goldfields. Weapons grade plutonium might come to be be a useful by-product