Can AUKUS deal be used to fast track India’s Nuclear Submarine Project?

Due to China’s desire to control the Indian Ocean in the near future with the help of its navy and naval bases in the area, Australia is purchasing nuclear-powered SSN from AUKUS deal. It also becomes increasingly necessary for the Indian Navy to purchase SSN in order to project power in the area. After Chakra two was abruptly sent back to Russia 10 months before its lease was set to expire, India has already signed a contract with old friend Russia to take on a 10-year lease for its two Akula 2 class nuclear submarines, which it will induct by 2026 to 2028.

The Indian Navy received in-principle approval just two years ago for the development of six new SSNs of the next generation. However, it is still unclear whether the Navy will opt for a brand-new design with a brand-new nuclear reactor or opt for an S4 class SSBM (ballistic missile submarine) that is converted into an SSN while drawing energy from the same reactor that was used for Arihant and S4 class SSBM.

The current 83MW pressurised water reactor might be used initially for the first generation indigenous SSN programme, but it won’t be sufficient for the second generation indigenous SSN programme, which obviously calls for a 190MW pressurised water reactor as the Navy has always desired for its third Generation S5 Class SSBM programme.

In order to avoid accusations that it is violating the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, Russia had to work within the constraints set by the western nations when developing this nuclear reactor for the Indian nuclear submarine programme.
The AUKUS could be used as a pretext by nuclear weapons states like India to obtain access to Highly Enriched Uranium and other nuclear reactor technologies for use in nuclear submarine programmes if the International Atomic Energy Agency fails to halt it.

 

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