Ground Report | New Delhi: What is AUKUS; US President Joe Biden, along with the prime ministers of the UK and Australia, announced on Thursday that the three nations are entering into a new trilateral security agreement, possibly aimed at countering China’s expansionism in the Indo-Pacific.
What is AUKUS?
The AUKUS Security Agreement is a tripartite partnership in which the US and UK will provide Australia with the technology and capability to deploy nuclear-powered submarines.
- This would mean that nuclear submarines have been built in Adelaide, South Australia, and would be the first time the UK and US have shared a nuclear capability with another country.
- Only six countries in the world have nuclear submarines and the treaty will see at least eight built. Britain currently has 11 nuclear submarines and France has eight. There will be an initial 18-month consultation period for teams from the three countries to work together.
- The deal will also extend to the purchase of Tomahawk cruise missiles, joint air-to-surface standoff missiles and long-range anti-ship missiles for Australia. The terms of the deal will also cover AI, cyber and quantum technologies.
Why has deal been struck?
- The US and its allies are looking for ways to push back against China’s growing power and influence in the Indo-Pacific region. They are particularly concerned by its military build-up, pressure on Taiwan and deployments in the contested South China Sea.
- A joint statement by the three leaders said the deal will “sustain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region”. During a virtual press conference, they did not name China directly but referred to regional security concerns which they claimed had “grown significantly”.
- It comes as Beijing has been rapidly expanding its military, surface fleet and aircrafts. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said that the country now has “one of the largest armed forces on the planet”.
- Boris Johnson has also claimed that the agreement will help to bolster Britain’s influence in the Indo-Pacific. During Prime Minister’s Questions on Thursday, he said the region was “a £9 trillion trade area in which the UK has an increasing diplomatic and commercial presence”.
Why US don’t want India
- Australia’s acquisition of at least eight nuclear-powered submarines as part of a new, tripartite defense agreement with the United States and Britain has prompted soul-searching in New Delhi as to how India should respond.
- All these developments hold lessons for India, which is proceeding in its systematic way to develop capabilities to challenge any future Chinese aggression in the Indian Ocean region.
- The Indian Navy has more or less shelved its second indigenous aircraft carrier project and decided to induct six nuclear-powered attack submarines. Currently, India leases one such ship from Russia.