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Pentagon outlines AUKUS feasibility requirements

The Pentagon has outlined some of the focus areas and expectations of the feasibility phase that will support the AUKUS partnership to build nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

A US Department of Defense (DoD) spokesperson told Janes that the 18-month study will include an examination of the capabilities required to enable production and operation of the Australian submarines and assessments of military-technology controls. To support the latter priority, the study is expected to collaborate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The AUKUS trilateral security partnership was jointly announced by leaders of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States in mid-September. Its first initiative is the programme to support the construction of at least eight nuclear-powered submarines for Australia. Other joint defence projects are expected to follow.

The DoD spokesperson said the AUKUS submarine project will bring together the three countries' “sailors, scientists, and industries” to maintain and expand the partners' “edge in military capabilities”. These objectives are aligned with the AUKUS objective to bolster Indo-Pacific security, the spokesperson added.

The spokesperson also said that the submarine project's 18-month study phase will see the US DoD collaborating with the US Department of State and the US Department of Energy. The latter jointly runs the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program in partnership with the US Navy (USN).

“This effort will intensively examine the full suite of requirements that underpin nuclear stewardship,” said the DoD spokesperson. He added that it will have a “specific focus” on safety, design, construction, operation, maintenance, disposal, regulation, training, environmental protection, installations and infrastructure, industrial base capacity, workforce, and force structure.

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