Nuclear-powered submarine deal and English-speaking countries


More examples of American-led geomilitary activity in the Asia-Pacific region are popping up as we move into the last quarter of 2021. American decisions to further enhance U.S. military advantage continues to be made, based on the perceived need to sustain, and grow U.S. power across the Deep Blue continent.

One expression of this behavior is found in the recent pact entered into between the United States, Australia, and the UK to build nuclear-powered fast-attack submarines for the Australian government. The British government is backing the effort through technology sharing on weapons systems as well as artificial intelligence. 

It is unclear if this nuclear-powered submarine construction arrangement will translate into the Australian government also arming these submarines with missiles carrying nuclear warheads. 

China and Russia view this development as a new act of aggression. This pact signals to the world that distrust is growing in ways that will lead to increased tensions between China, America, and Australia because China views this pact as a direct assault and challenge to its desire to fully control and influence its near seas areas such as the South China Sea.

As more and more countries design, build and bring into operation undersea weapons of war that are nuclear-powered and/or armed with nuclear warheads, the possibility of future miscalculation in heavily used sea routes such as the South China Sea could quickly escalate into hot war. 

Marianas Islands caught in the mix
Guam, the Northern Marianas Islands, and our Chamorro people are literally caught in the mix of what amounts to a multinational arms race and preparations for war that require use and freedom of action by major military powers throughout the western Pacific and Deep Blue ocean continent. 

China, Russia, and the United States all maintain operationally viable fleets of nuclear-powered attack submarines intended to carry out offensive operations and strikes. Russia and the U.S. are also working on operationalizing fleets of unmanned undersea weapons of war that may be nuclear-powered and carry nuclear warheads.

Technology and information transfers
This development constitutes a major technological transfer deal that will enable Australia to have the wherewithal to plan and construct nuclear-powered submarines. Having a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines means that Australia will be able to train with the Americans and British navies to project military power closer to China, thereby creating a new deterrence measure intended to dissuade the Chinese from unilaterally starting a hot war in the region. 

Proponents of this deal argue in part that this development is necessary for the United States because it allows America to exercise its influence through actions taken by key English-speaking allied nations. 

More training conducted by the west, will further incentivize the Chinese to grow their military abilities to identify, track, locate and sink nuclear-powered submarines conducting operations in China’s near seas regions. Russia is further incentivized to find ways to counter additional advantages that the United States will gain from having Australia build out a new submarine fleet.  

Why now? 
The United States needs as much help as possible from its key English-speaking allies. Getting into an arrangement where nuclear-powered submarines will be built and used will give the Australian navy the ability to stay under the water for months at a time. This alone will make it more difficult for the Chinese navy to identify, locate, and track these kinds of submarines. 

A new American-led security arrangement is needed now because China continues to grow its military and is not planning on slowing down anytime soon. In our region, the Chinese and American navies can be interpreted now as peer competitors, even though traditional units of measure favor the United States militarily. 

Why the stakes are so high
The stakes are so high for our overall region because close to two billion people live in and around the areas that border the South China Sea. Several countries have extended coastlines that end at the beginning of the South China Sea, and there are untapped natural resources that several nations want to claim because of the wealth that would be generated from exploiting and extracting natural resources such as natural gas and minerals found under the sea. 

Geopolitics and militarism are odd

Oddly enough, Australia and China are significant trading partners, making this arrangement somewhat strange. Australia depends heavily on China for economic growth and China has made it a point to bring Australia into its business orbit.  

Yet militarily, the United States has decided to share very sensitive undersea warfare technology with the Australians in exchange to be able to further project influence in the region. 

A trilateral nation state arrangement involving technology transfers and building nuclear-powered submarines has never been formally consummated in the way that resembles past arrangements. 

This demonstrates the ongoing commitment that Australia has to America and vice versa. 

It may end up being that if the United States wants to be able to continue to project influence throughout the region that it has no choice but to pursue new kinds of security arrangements. 

Rick Arriola Perez | Author
Rick Arriola Perez is a U.S. military veteran who has worked for the U.S. Department of Defense, the Bank of Hawaii, and the government of Guam. He holds several degrees including ones from UCLA and the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I. Rick is passionate about national security and foreign affairs in the Pacific Asia region and runs a blogsite called Guam Affairs at For more information, contact Perez at

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