A historic defense and security partnership has been forged between the leaders of the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, which aims to protect and defend the common interests of nations in the Indo-Pacific.
As part of the AUKUS alliance, the three countries will strengthen joint capacity development and technology sharing, and promote deeper integration of science, technology, industrial bases and supply chains related to security and defense.
The first initiative under AUKUS will be a collaboration on future nuclear powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy. In a joint statement, the countries said this capability would promote stability in the Indo-Pacific and would be deployed in support of their common values and interests.
The trilateral security partnership has yet to mention China by name, but the implications were clear. China was quick to denounce this decision. According to a BBC report, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the alliance risked “seriously undermining regional peace … and intensifying the arms race.” He also criticized what he called “the obsolete Cold War mentality …” and warned that the three countries “were harming their own interests”.
In a press appeal after the AUKUS announcement, a senior White House administration official was asked about the “direct link” to China. The official responded that nuclear powered submarines retain “superior characteristics of stealth and speed, maneuverability, survivability and truly substantial endurance,” adding “what we are seeing in the Indo-Pacific region. is a – is a set of circumstances where capabilities are more advanced. ”AUKUS would therefore allow Australia to effectively“ level up ”in order to maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific. , the Australian Department of Defense said the program represents “a substantial leap in capability” for the Royal Australian Navy.
China was not the only country to find the formation of AUKUS to be unwelcome news. The announcement sees Australia cancel an order for French-built submarines. France subsequently recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia and canceled a Franco-American gala to be held on September 17. The submarine contract with the French naval group was reportedly delayed and was subject to cost overruns and overhauls. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called the new security pact a “stab in the back”.
Aware of the tensions, President Biden said the UKUS effort reflects a broader trend of key European countries playing an extremely important role in the Indo-Pacific. “France, in particular, already has a substantial Indo-Pacific presence and is a key partner and ally in strengthening the region’s security and prosperity,” Biden said, adding that the United States was impatient. to work in close collaboration with France and other key countries. countries.
The UK has been building and operating nuclear powered submarines for over 60 years. The initial scoping phase for the new business is expected to take 18 months. The UK government says the design and build process will create hundreds of jobs across the UK and boost investment in high tech sectors. Ultimately, the submarines will be built in Adelaide, Australia, in close cooperation with the United Kingdom and the United States.
AUKUS submarines will be nuclear powered, not nuclear weapon. “I want to be extremely clear on this,” President Biden said. “We are not talking about nuclear submarines. These are conventional weapon submarines powered by nuclear reactors. This technology is proven. It’s certain. And the US and UK have operated nuclear-powered submarines for decades. “
Trilateral collaboration will not stop at submarines. Further efforts under AUKUS, which have not yet been disclosed, will focus on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and additional underwater capabilities.