US, UK and Australia announce new Indo-Pacific security partnership
AUKUS security group to focus on promoting strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific region
A week before a Quad leaders meeting in Washington DC, the Biden administration on September 15 announced a new trilateral security partnership for the Indo-Pacific between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS ). In this context, Australia will acquire nuclear powered submarines with the help of the United Kingdom and the United States.
The trilateral reunification was officially announced by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who joined US President Joe Biden in the White House via video link. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also participated in the video link launch.
“The future of the Indo-Pacific will impact all of our futures,” said Morrison, adding that AUKUS will strengthen Australia’s contribution to its other partnerships, including Quad.
“We must be able to deal with both the current strategic environment in the region and its potential evolution, as the future of each of our nations – and indeed of the world – depends on an Indo-Pacific. free and open, sustainable and flourishing for decades to come, ”Biden said.
There was no divide between the interests of the American partners in the Atlantic and the Pacific, he said, adding that the United States would work with other partners – such as Quad and ASEAN. – In the region. Mr. Biden also singled out France for its growing presence in the region and its role in strengthening security there.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the announcement, a senior administration official described a trilateral security-focused group, suggesting it was different – but complementary – to arrangements such as the Quad.
18 month plan
The nuclear-powered submarines will be built in Adelaide, Mr Morrison said, in close cooperation with the UK and the US. Officials said the 18-month plan to deliver the First Fleet would help Australia acquire submarines that are quieter than their conventional counterparts, but also more capable of being deployed for longer periods and needing to surface. less frequently.
“But let me be clear: Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or to establish civilian nuclear capability,” Mr. Morrison said.
Mr Biden stressed that the submarines would be armed in a conventional manner.
“Only a handful of countries have nuclear powered submarines, and it is a momentous decision for any nation to acquire this formidable capability,” Mr Johnson said, highlighting the employment opportunities the partnership would create for the British.
If the new partnership delivers on its promises, it could “be a game-changer” for the region, according to Arzan Tarapore, South Asia security expert and academic at Stanford University.
“Along with India’s stated intention to acquire more nuclear-powered submarines, this will represent a drastic increase in the Quad’s submarine and anti-submarine warfare capabilities,” Tarapore said. . The Hindu.
AUKUS will also involve a new architecture of meetings and engagements between the three countries, as well as cooperation between emerging technologies (applied AI, quantum technologies and underwater capabilities).
Tensions are high between Australia and an increasingly assertive China, its biggest trading partner. Australia banned Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei in 2108 and Mr Morrison called for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19 last year. China retaliated by imposing tariffs or capping Australian exports.
However, as in the Quad’s case, US officials have denied that the partnership is a response to China.
Peace and stability
“I would like to emphasize very clearly that this partnership does not have the objective of [at] or about any country, it’s about advancing our strategic interests, upholding the rules-based international order and promoting peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, ”said Wednesday a manager.
The initiative, officials said, responds to Australia’s desire to step up its maritime security game in the Indo-Pacific region. The partnership was also a “down payment” the UK was making on its decision to engage more deeply with the Indo-Pacific, according to an official, who said the partnership was a “fundamental decision … that binds, de decisively, Australia in the United States and Britain for generations.
Asked about future extensions of this trilateral framework, an administration official said that AUKUS was “very rare” and “unique” and that the United States only shared this type of technology on nuclear submarines. only once before – with the UK. and almost 70 years ago.
“I do not anticipate that this will be undertaken under other circumstances in the future,” the official said.