The U.K., U.S., and Australia unveil Aukus . . .
Through a virtual announcement on Wednesday, the U.K., U.S., and Australia announced a new trilateral security partnership to “deepen diplomatic, security, and defence co-operation in the Indo-Pacific region.” In the works since Joe Biden took office, the new security alliance will boost joint military capabilities and interoperability among the three countries, focusing on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and additional undersea capabilities. The pact will also promote information and advanced technology sharing, including supporting Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarine technologies.
Australia steps forward . . .
In the short term, the agreement will centre on delivering a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, marking a significant leap in the country’s military capabilities. Compared to conventional submarines, nuclear subs are quieter, harder to detect, faster, and do not need to surface as frequently. Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated that the subs would be built in Adelaide, Australia’s fifth-largest city. He also said that Australia would not seek to develop either nuclear weapons or a civilian nuclear capability in connection with Aukus. An American official commented that the deal “allows Australia to play at a much higher level and to augment American capabilities.” The Aukus announcement scuppers a US$90-billion submarine deal Australia signed with France in 2016.
International reactions . . .
France has deplored the announcement and Australia’s decision to drop their bilateral submarine deal. The EU, which released its Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific on the same day as the Aukus announcement, was upset at not having been consulted. China also reacted fiercely, stating that the deal would damage regional peace and stability and would further intensify an already ongoing arms race in the region. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated today that the new pact will not impact Canada’s ability to gather intelligence and defend its interests in the region. Meanwhile, the four members of the ‘Quad’ (Australia, India, Japan, U.S.) are set to meet in Washington next week. According to the White House, the summit will seek to deepen ties and co-operation among its members, discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, and “promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Scott Morrison announces AUKUS partnership alongside Boris Johnson and Joe Biden
- Reuters: After Australia arms deal flop, EU launches Indo-Pacific plan
- Washington Post: A new U.S. alliance responds to the Chinese threat — and U.S. military complacency