The Ethics of AUKUS: Diplomatic Duplicity and Proliferation Perils


The AUKUS trilateral security pact was announced between the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK) and Australia on September 15, 2021. It pledged for the two larger allies to assist the development of nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), as well as broader cooperation in cybersecurity, and development of cruise and hypersonic missiles. AUKUS caused 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 came to play a significant role in escalating this diplomatic crisis, as President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Scott Morrison personally accused each other of deceptive conduct. The wider systemic implications for global security will also be examined. Concerns have been raised by arms control scholars and by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that AUKUS could encourage other non-nuclear armed powers to pursue nuclear submarines, which threatens to erode the non- proliferation arms control regime.This policy decision has thus resulted in a security dilemma for Australia. By engaging in an arms race to deter the growing 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 US ally. As a national election was called for May 21, 2022, Morrison may also suffer a domestic political cost, due to his ethical mendacity.

Author Information
Craig Mark, Kyoritsu Women's University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACERP2022
Stream: Ethics and Globalization

This paper is part of the ACERP2022 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Mark C. (2022) The Ethics of AUKUS: Diplomatic Duplicity and Proliferation Perils ISSN: 2187-476X – The Asian Conference on Ethics, Religion & Philosophy 2022 Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon