The Ethics of AUKUS: Diplomatic Duplicity and Proliferation Perils

Conference: The Asian Conference on Ethics, Religion & Philosophy (ACERP2022)
Title: The Ethics of AUKUS: Diplomatic Duplicity and Proliferation Perils
Stream: Ethics and Globalization
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
Craig Mark, Kyoritsu Women's University, Japan


The AUKUS trilateral security pact was announced between the United States (U.S.), the United Kingdom and Australia on September 15, 2021. It pledged the two larger allies would assist the development of nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), as well as broader cooperation in cybersecurity, and the development of cruise and hypersonic missiles. AUKUS led to the immediate cancellation of a A$90 billion contract signed by Australia in 2016 with the French government-owned Naval Group company to design and deliver a new generation of conventionally powered submarines for the RAN. This contribution will analyse how ethical values have played a role in the escalating diplomatic crisis, as the respective leaders of France and Australia, President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, have personally accused each other of deceptive conduct. The wider implications for global security will also be examined. Concerns have been raised by scholars of arms control, and by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that AUKUS could encourage other non-nuclear powers to pursue nuclear submarines, which threatens to erode the international non-proliferation regime. This policy decision has thus resulted in a security dilemma for Australia. By engaging in an arms race to deter the rising geopolitical assertiveness of the People’s Republic of China, the conservative Morrison government has eroded its relations with traditional ally France, and complicated relations with their mutual U.S. ally. As a national election is due by May 2022, Morrison may also suffer a domestic political cost, due to his ethical mendacity.

Virtual Presentation

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