By Neeraj Nanda
MELBOURNE, 16 September: In a historical move Australia, UK, and the US have announced today morning the formation of a new security alliance “AUKUS”, “to deepen diplomatic, security, and defense cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, including by working with partners, to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.”
The trilateral defence alliance aimed to counter China’s growing activity in the Indo-Pacific will strengthen Australia’s defence capabilities including helping it in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines from the US. The much delayed Australia’s $ 90 billion N-submarine deal with France now looks dead.
As expected, China has reacted sharply to the AUKUS announcement. An article in the Global Times says, ” Washington is losing its mind by trying to rally its allies against China, creating antagonism and destruction beyond its control. It has been immersed in attacking China without seriously assessing the possibility of backfiring.”
The three leaders statement talks of “working with partners” which indicates the Quad meeting which President Biden is organizing next week and includes Japan and India. Though, India has not commented on the issue.
The announcement was made by the three leaders virtually. The joint text statement was later received by SAT via email on behalf of the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and US President Joseph R. Biden.
The statement says:
“As leaders of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, guided by our enduring ideals and shared commitment to the international rules-based order, we resolve to deepen diplomatic, security, and defense cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, including by working with partners, to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. As part of this effort, we are announcing the creation of an enhanced trilateral security partnership called “AUKUS” — Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Through AUKUS, our governments will strengthen the ability of each to support our security and defense interests, building on our longstanding and ongoing bilateral ties. We will promote deeper information and technology sharing. We will foster deeper integration of security and defense-related science, technology, industrial bases, and supply chains. And in particular, we will significantly deepen cooperation on a range of security and defense capabilities.
As the first initiative under AUKUS, recognizing our common tradition as maritime democracies, we commit to a shared ambition to support Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy. Today, we embark on a trilateral effort of 18 months to seek an optimal pathway to deliver this capability. We will leverage expertise from the United States and the United Kingdom, building on the two countries’ submarine programs to bring an Australian capability into service at the earliest achievable date.
The development of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines would be a joint endeavour between the three nations, with a focus on interoperability, commonality, and mutual benefit. Australia is committed to adhering to the highest standards for safeguards, transparency, verification, and accountancy measures to ensure the non-proliferation, safety, and security of nuclear material and technology. Australia remains committed to fulfilling all of its obligations as a non-nuclear weapons state, including with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Our three nations are deeply committed to upholding our leadership on global non-proliferation.
Recognizing our deep defense ties, built over decades, today we also embark on further trilateral collaboration under AUKUS to enhance our joint capabilities and interoperability. These initial efforts will focus on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and additional undersea capabilities.
The endeavour we launch today will help sustain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. For more than 70 years, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States have worked together, along with other important allies and partners, to protect our shared values and promote security and prosperity. Today, with the formation of AUKUS, we recommit ourselves to this vision.”