Australians are no better informed about what will be Australia’s most expensive-ever defence project – equipping the Navy with US or British nuclear-powered submarines – than they were a year ago when the Morrison government announced the deal a year ago.
Yet while the Albanese government shows little sign of serious engagement to the increasingly heavy load of domestic criticisms of the globally-unprecedented project, its most serious and effective opposition may be a new and wide-ranging Chinese attack in the global legal nuclear arena.
The Chinese government has dramatically shifted the diplomatic attack against the AUKUS partners with an unprecedented and savagely worded submission to the International Atomic Energy Agency on the illegality of the AUKUS transfer of military nuclear-propulsion technology.
“Should such attempts prevail’, the Chinese paper states, ‘the Agency would be reduced to a “nuclear proliferation agency.”’
Australia and its elder partners did the IAEA head no favours by hiding behind his assertions of ‘AUKUS transparency’, and have provided China with another stick to beat Australia with.
Once again, an entirely an Australian own goal for China.