A The Biden administration has announced a new trilateral security partnership for the Indo-Pacific, between Australia, the U.K., and the U.S. (AUKUS).
Q What is AUKUS?
AUKUS, as the partnership is being called, will strive over the next 18 months to equip Australia with nuclear propulsion technology.
As part of this, Australia will acquire nuclear-powered submarines with help from the UK and the US.
It will also involve a new architecture of meetings and engagements between the three countries, as well as cooperation across emerging technologies (applied AI, quantum technologies and undersea capabilities).
Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines, when they deploy, will be armed with conventional weapons only and not nuclear weapons.
Q Why such an alliance?
Tensions have been high between Australia and an increasingly assertive China, its largest trade partner.
Australia banned Chinese telecom giant Huawei in 2108 and its PM called for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19 last year.
China retaliated by imposing tariffs on or capping Australian exports.
This alliance does not and will not supersede or outrank existing arrangements in the Indo-Pacific region such as the Quad, which the US and Australia form with India and Japan, and ASEAN.
AUKUS will complement these groups and others.
Q What is its Significance ?
There has been only one other time that the US has shared as “extremely sensitive” submarine propulsion technology — more than 60 years ago, back in 1958, with Great Britain.
The US is working to move past the 20-year war in Afghanistan and the chaotic U.S. exit from Kabul.
The Biden Administration has put countering China at the center of his economic and national security efforts, describing it as the biggest challenge of this era.