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After Aukus: Asian submarine proliferation

The Australian sub deal signals deeper military integration between the US and its allies and spurs the spread of submarines in Asia’s waters.

The Royal Australian Navy's Collins-class submarine HMAS Waller leaving Sydney Harbour on May 4, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS
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Whatever the long-term political consequences of the Aukus arrangement might be, the decision by the United States and United Kingdom to help Australia build nuclear-powered submarines has highlighted a larger trend - Asia's growing appetite for submarines, both conventional and nuclear.

For some, the trend invokes fears of a new regional arms race in underwater weapons. But those looking at the shifting naval balance of power in Asia's waters believe the proliferation of submarines inevitable. Others are convinced that Aukus-type deals will in fact reduce incentives for the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Asian powers.

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