Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 - Faculty of Law

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The silent masters of the oceans: the strategic and non-proliferation implications of nuclear-powered submarines in Australia and Brazil

Par Douglas Rocha

Abstract

At the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference in 2022, Director General Rafael Grossi emphasizes that “the world of nuclear proliferation and safeguards is changing,” and that this change creates important technical and political challenges. The announcement of the AUKUS agreement and the progress of Brazil’s nuclear-powered submarine program reflect regional geopolitical realignments. Internationally, the IAEA safeguards system is challenged by these developments insofar as they entail risks of nuclear proliferation. How does the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines impact both the regional and international strategic balance and nuclear non-proliferation norms? The purpose of this research note is to analyze the geopolitical motivations of nuclear-powered submarine programs in Australia and Brazil and their impact on non-proliferation instruments.

About the Author

Research fellow at the Institute for Strategic and Defense Studies (IESD) for studies on nuclear arms control and ballistic non-proliferation. Former Research assistant at the Brazilian Center for Strategy and International Relations (NERINT). He holds a Master's degree in International Security and Defense from the University Jean Moulin (Lyon, France) and a Bachelor's degree in International Relations from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Porto Alegre, Brazil).

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