AUKUS, Nuclear Submarines and Waste a serious threat to Environment and Climate
The recent announcement of a new defense pact between Australia, the UK and the US, known as AUKUS, has sparked widespread criticism and concern over its environmental and climate implications. The pact involves the provision of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, which will be based on the UK’s next-generation design and incorporate US technologies.
While the three countries claim that the pact is aimed at enhancing their security cooperation and deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region. Others have denounced it as a blatant act of nuclear proliferation that undermines the international non-proliferation system, fuels arms races, and hurts regional peace and stability.
Moreover, the pact raises serious questions about the environmental and climate impacts of nuclear-powered submarines, which generate radioactive waste that needs to be safely stored and disposed of. The waste poses a risk of contamination, leakage, or theft, especially in the event of accidents or incidents involving the submarines. The waste also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, as it requires energy-intensive processes to produce, transport, and manage.
The pact also ignores the wishes and interests of the Pacific island nations, which have long suffered from the legacy of nuclear testing and dumping in their waters by colonial powers. The Pacific island nations have declared their region a nuclear-free zone and have called for a global ban on nuclear weapons. They have also been at the forefront of advocating for climate action, as they are among the most vulnerable to the effects of rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and coral bleaching.
The AUKUS pact, therefore, represents a serious threat to the environment and climate, as well as a disregard for the rights and aspirations of the Pacific island nations. It also risks escalating tensions and conflicts in the region, rather than promoting dialogue and cooperation. The pact should be reconsidered and revised in light of its environmental and climate consequences, as well as its regional and global implications.