Fact or Fission?

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An updated and authoritative account of Australia's involvement with nuclear power, including the AUKUS nuclear submarine pact.
Based on previously classified files and interviews with some of Australia's prominent politicians and diplomats, the first edition of Fact or Fission? revealed that the nation's nuclear policies had a chequered history. We sold, and continue to sell, uranium abroad, but rejected plans to build nuclear reactors in Australia. We switched from wanting our own nuclear weapons during the Cold War to giving strong support for a sane international non-proliferation regime.

But now the narrative needs updating. Since the attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001, an increasingly uncritical acceptance in Canberra of Washington's war-fighting policies - nuclear and conventional - has encouraged the very things that Australia once so vigorously and moralistically opposed.

The latest step was taken at the end of 2021 with the announcement that the Navy will acquire nuclear-propelled submarines from either the UK or US. If the deal ever goes through, these submarines will likely be deployed as part of an American strategy to contain China. But if successive US administrations continue to vacillate in their policies towards their allies, or are unable or unwilling to defend us, Australian hawks may see arming the submarines with nuclear weapons as the only way Australia can defend itself against a resurgent China.

Richard Broinowski concludes that Australia's foreign policy has become militarised, with key departments and militant think-tanks in Canberra calling the shots in pursuing an aggressive policy towards China. Such activities profoundly endanger Australia's own security.