Australia and the US nuclear umbrella: from deterrence taker to deterrence maker

Peter Dean, Stephan Fruehling, Andrew O'Neil

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Historically, Australia’s approach to extended nuclear deterrence can be seen as a consumer rather than contributor within the framework of its alliance with the United States. Despite invoking the nuclear umbrella in strategic guidance since the early 1990s, successive Australian governments have been reluctant to engage with operationally supporting extended nuclear deterrence and content to point to the Joint Facilities as evidence of Australia’s contribution. The changing nature of the Indo- Pacific strategic balance means that this approach is increasingly misaligned with contemporary strategic risks and Australia’s evolving strategic focus on deterrence. The recent intensification of defence and force posture cooperation between Canberra and Washington presents a window of opportunity for Australia to redefine its approach to the nuclear umbrella in the context of a more holistic understanding of mutual commitments in the alliance. This article outlines how Australia should bolster its contribution through more structured dialogue with the US on nuclear strategy and mutual expectations, supporting preparation for and potential execution of US nuclear operations in the Indo- Pacific, and returning to a formal position of opposing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)22-39
    JournalAustralian Journal of International Affairs
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2024

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