Push to grant Australia a waiver on nuclear submarine imports ahead of schedule

“The export controls built up over decades will force Congress to reform the system. The White House is fully aware of this, and there is a growing group of members of Congress reading up on this issue, but it’s harder than it sounds to fix. This is a threshold problem.”


Australian officials have been urging their US counterparts for years to reform their treatment under gun regulations, and the issue was the focus of December’s Australia-US ministerial consultations between Marles and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

“I think there’s a consensus about wanting to create a seamless environment … where information and technology can flow much more freely between our two countries,” Marles told reporters in Washington last month. “We do not for a moment underestimate the complexity of achieving this within the American system.”

In response to questions from this imprint, a spokesman for the Australian Department of Defense said it believed the export arrangements would need to be amended “to ensure technology and know-how is transferred seamlessly and effectively between the AUKUS partners as well as their respective industrial sites can, within an appropriately designed protective framework”.

Others in Washington are also aware of the challenge. Among Republicans, AUKUS faction co-chair Mike Gallagher, like Courtney, is committed to reforming the export control regime and has consistently emphasized the importance of providing Australia with assault boats to counter China’s aggression and “our interests in the Indo-Pacific.” to protect “.

He also acknowledged that AUKUS was not giving Australia enough flexibility in relation to international arms trade regulations and suggested that a “spin-off” might be needed to exempt the project.

Secretary of Defense Richard Marles with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Washington.

Secretary of Defense Richard Marles with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Washington.Credit:Department of Defense.

At a seminar last week, Democratic Congressman Adam Smith, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, also warned that while AUKUS is “a great idea with a lot of promise,” it “also could go wrong” unless regulation and restrictions were relaxed .

And Mark Watson, director of the Washington office of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, suggested that “an AUKUS fast track is what we need” to prevent the project from being delayed or derailed due to the bureaucratic maze and complex US laws avoid.

But the regulatory hurdles aren’t the only difficulty Allianz faces.


One of the concessions Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy made this month to secure the House speaker was a vote on a framework that caps discretionary spending at fiscal 2022 levels. Some fear it could result in a real-world cut in the US defense budget, which Courtney said “could have a very negative impact on AUKUS.”

Australia’s support for nuclear submarine acquisitions will also test America’s submarine manufacturing industry, which has already been strained by the COVID pandemic.

While AUKUS has had bipartisan support since September 2021, a December letter from Sen. Jack Reed and then-Republican James Inhofe to Biden raised concerns that the US submarine base could be stretched to the “stress point.”

However, in a counter-letter sent to Biden last week, Courtney, Gallagher and a group of other Republicans and Democrats defended AUKUS as “a decades-long and multi-generational effort — one worth making for the safety of our nation and the our allies in the Indo-Pacific”.

“An AUKUS fast lane is what we need.”

Mark Watson, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Washington

Last year, members of the group also brokered a bipartisan agreement to establish a training pipeline that would allow at least two Australian submarine officers a year to train with the US Navy.

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https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/democrat-push-to-grant-australia-a-waiver-to-import-nuclear-subs-earlier-than-expected-20230120-p5ce4e.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_world Push to grant Australia a waiver on nuclear submarine imports ahead of schedule

Callan Tansill

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