PIR Center Held an Expert Seminar on the Topic “Key Players in the Global Nuclear Submarines (SSN) Market and Their Export Models“

November 8, 2023

MOSCOW. NOVEMBER 8, 2023. PIR PRESS. «A comprehensive review of nuclear submarine construction programs in owner countries and their prospects in various regions of the world demonstrates that interest in building a more powerful submarine fleet is taking the form of a trend. The examples of South Korea, Iran, and India, which are all interested in the development of their submarine fleets, demonstrate that the nuclear submarine market can potentially expand. Its functioning requires the creation of a reliable legal framework to control the use of fissile materials in naval nuclear propulsion. Only then can we talk about the cooperation in the sphere of building and selling nuclear submarines with other countries», — Mr. Roman Kalinin, an intern of the PIR Center’s Nuclear Nonproliferation and Russia Program.

On November 2, 2023, PIR Center held an expert seminar on the topic “Key Players in the Global Nuclear Submarines (SSN) Market and Their Export Models“. The event occurred in frames of the PIR Center Midweek Brainstorming Sessions educational project.

The event was marked by the defense of a research paper prepared by Mr. Roman Kalinin, an intern of the PIR Center’s Nuclear Nonproliferation and Russia Program. In particular, he presented the main results of the analysis of the strategy and composition of the submarine fleets of Brazil, France, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Korea, and the United States.

Mr. Roman Kalinin spoke about the advantages of the nuclear submarine fleet and touched upon the impact of the unfolding naval arms race between the US and China on the nuclear submarine market. Using the examples of Brazil’s nuclear submarine development program (PROSUB) and US-Australian cooperation within the framework of AUKUS, the main threats to the nuclear nonproliferation regime were discussed. Particular attention was paid to the submarine fleet development programs of India, Iran, and South Korea, which testify to the growing interest in the construction of nuclear submarines by new influential world players. In conclusion, Russia’s current opportunities and threats from the expansion of the nuclear submarine market were assessed.

Expert comments on the scientific work presented for defense were made by Colonel (retired) Viktor Litovkin, TASS military observer; Ms. Ana Livia Esteves, journalist, and Mr. Igor Vishnevetsky, independent expert. Thus, Mr. Victor Litovkin noted the depth of elaboration of the topic and detailed presentation of the material. The expert emphasized the need to study the history of nuclear submarines, principles and motives of decision-making on specific projects. Mr. Victor Litovkin stressed the importance of elaborating on the impact of cases on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the influence of great powers’ policies on the expansion of the nuclear submarine market.

Ms. Ana Livia Esteves, in her expert commentary, focused on the importance of examining the true motivations of states to develop SSN programs. Using the example of Brazil, she noted the importance of developing more thorough international mechanisms to control this type of activity that would protect all countries equally.

Mr. Igor Vishnevetsky highlighted as a merit of the paper the fact that it reveals the potential to develop nuclear submarines in different categories of countries: recognized and unrecognized nuclear powers, threshold states, and non-nuclear-weapon states. Mr. Igor Vishnevetsky opined that it is the nuclear submarine fleet that poses the greatest risks to the nuclear nonproliferation regime. The emergence of a nuclear-powered fleet by some powers in the future may mean the emergence of nuclear-armed missiles. This should be kept in mind when it comes to military-technical cooperation. If international cooperation in this sphere expands, Pandora’s Box could open in the future.

Dr. Vadim Koziulin, PIR Center Consultant, recommended that more attention in the work should be paid to the research of the nuclear submarine market: various forms of cooperation and the degree of Russia’s participation. Dr. Alexander Fedorov, Associate Professor of the Department of Information Security of the Faculty of Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Control Systems, Bauman Moscow State Technical University, member of PIR Center Advisory Board, suggested focusing on technologies that are of interest in the market and Russia’s capabilities to implement such technologies.

In conclusion, several questions were addressed to the speaker. Participants were interested in Russia’s position on the nuclear submarine market. There was a question about which other countries could follow the path of building nuclear submarines and the possibility of creating coalitions of countries with joint operational fleet management, in particular within the BRICS framework. There was also a comment on how far the IAEA has come in creating rules of the game for the nuclear submarine market. The questions provoked a vivid discussion.

According to the results of the defense of the research paper and the subsequent expert discussion, the presented scientific research was recommended for further development and subsequent publication in the format of an analytical paper.

The record of the expert seminar is available on the PIR Center educational platform NONPROLIFERATION.WORLD (In Russian).

If you have any questions about PIR Center Midweek Brainstorming Sessions, please contact Ms. Elena Karnaukhova, PIR Center Deputy Director-Education & Training Program Director, via email edu@pircenter.org.

Key Words: SSN, NPT, Nuclear Nonproliferation, Global Security