Australia has signed an agreement with the US and UK that formalises the exchange of sensitive and classified naval nuclear submarine information.
This Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information Agreement is part of the three-way arrangement under the AUKUS defence and security partnership that took effect in September this year.
The AUKUS collaboration will encourage deeper security and integration of defence-related science, technology, industrial bases, and supply chains.
It seeks to better protect and defend the shared interests of the three countries in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as strengthen the Integrated Review commitment.
Subject to the domestic processes of the UK and the US, the Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information Agreement has now been tabled in the Australian Parliament for review by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.
Australia Defence Minister Peter Dutton said that the agreement will advance the consultations by allowing the US and UK to share their nuclear submarine information for the first time with a third country.
Dutton added: “This agreement will support Australia in completing the 18 months of intensive and comprehensive examination of the requirements underpinning the delivery of nuclear-powered submarines.
“The United Kingdom and the United States will be able to share naval nuclear propulsion information with Australia, which they cannot with any other country, in the determination of the optimal pathway to acquire nuclear-powered submarines for operation by the Royal Australian Navy.
“With access to the information this Agreement delivers, coupled with the decades of naval nuclear-powered experience our UK and US partners have, Australia will also be positioned to be responsible and reliable stewards of this technology.”
The agreement will also offer a way for Australian personnel to gain access to training and education from their US and UK counterparts.
This training will equip the Australian personnel on building and operating nuclear-powered submarines safely and effectively.
The deal only concerns the sharing of naval nuclear propulsion data between the trio and not the transfer of equipment.
Dutton added: “This agreement will assist Australia to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to create a world-class regulatory and safety regime required for the safe operation of naval nuclear propulsion.”