The AUKUS partnership is a trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States formed in 2021.
One of its most significant outcomes is the agreement for the US and UK to assist Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines, significantly enhancing Australia’s naval capabilities in the Indo-Pacific.
Strengths and Impacts of AUKUS:
1. Advanced Military Technology: The provision of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia is a significant upgrade of its naval capability. These submarines are faster, stealthier, and can stay underwater for longer periods than conventional submarines, providing a strategic advantage in the Indo-Pacific.
2. Reinforcing Deterrence: By explicitly focusing on military capabilities, AUKUS complements existing partnerships in the region by reinforcing deterrence against any potential aggression, particularly from China.
3. Enhanced Cooperation: AUKUS also involves cooperation in other areas like cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and undersea capabilities, which could potentially enhance the defence capabilities of the three nations.
1. Nevertheless, the formation of AUKUS has raised some concerns, particularly from France, which had its existing contract to build submarines for Australia cancelled. It also led to discussions within the European Union about the need for greater strategic autonomy.
2. Furthermore, countries in the region, including QUAD members like India, would have to navigate the strategic implications of this new alliance, particularly regarding relations with China.
Will AUKUS supersede existing partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region?
1. Complementary to QUAD: The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD), which includes the US, India, Japan, and Australia, is a strategic forum focused on a range of issues like freedom of navigation, democratic values, and regional security. While QUAD emphasizes diplomatic and economic engagement, AUKUS is explicitly military-focused, and thus both can work synergistically.
2. Distinct from Five Eyes: Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance between the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Its focus is mainly on intelligence sharing and cooperation, which is distinct from the military focus of AUKUS.
3. Interoperability: AUKUS could enhance the interoperability between the armed forces of the three nations, making joint operations with other partners in the region more effective.
Hence AUKUS is not intended to replace other regional partnerships, but rather to complement them.