The US administration established a new trilateral security alliance for the Indo-Pacific involving Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States a week before the Quad leaders’ conference in Washington, DC (AUKUS). Within 18 months, Australia will acquire nuclear-powered submarines with the support of the United Kingdom and the United States.
China not mentioned explicitly in any of the AUKUS statements. Regardless, the formation of the organization is crucial because the Indo-Pacific is quickly emerging as a hotspot of geopolitical competition, with China claiming sovereignty over the whole South China Sea. Let’s take a look at the new AUKUS group, its relevance, and its issues in this post.
Australia will acquire nuclear-powered submarines: The first major project of AUKUS would be the delivery to Australia of a nuclear-powered submarine fleet within the following 18 months.
The UK and the US will assist Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines as part of the AUKUS alliance. The submarines will be manufactured in Adelaide, Australia, and be nuclear-powered. This is critical since the United States and Russia share nuclear submarine technology. Only once in the previous 70 years has this occurred, when it shared technology with the United Kingdom in 1958.
The submarines will not have nuclear weapons. Instead, these are nuclear-powered submarines that are conventionally armed.
Nuclear submarines are only in the hands of a few governments. The United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and India are among them. Australia will join these elite countries as a result of the AUKUS cooperation. Furthermore, Australia will be the only country in the world with such submarines and no civilian nuclear power industry.
- Focus on Indo-Pacific :
The AUKUS security alliance will work to advance strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific.
2. Other multi-sectorial cooperation :
A new architecture of meetings and exchanges between the three countries will be part of the AUKUS collaboration. They also collaborate on new technologies like applied AI, quantum technologies, and subsea capabilities, among others.
In addition, the collaboration will collaborate with other regional partners such as the Quad and ASEAN.
SIGNIFICANCE OF AUKUS:
- Compliment the efforts of QUAD in Indo-Pacific:
“If the new collaboration lives up to its promise, it may be a “game-changer” for the region,” says Arzan Tarapore, a South Asia security expert. “Along with India’s stated aim to buy new nuclear-powered submarines, the AUKUS will amount to a step-change boost in the Quad’s undersea and anti-submarine warfare capabilities,” he continues.
Because the Quad is not a security grouping, the AUKUS adds security to the mix. For the time being, the Quad and AUKUS will run on separate tracks, with the prospect of them merging in the future.
2. Countering China in the Indo-Pacific, especially in the South China Sea:
In the Pacific, where China has become most aggressive, the nuclear-powered submarines will provide Australia with naval strength. The Royal Australian Navy now has the potential to go into the South China Sea to secure its assets and conduct patrols thanks to nuclear-powered submarines.
3. Compliment other regional groupings in Indo-Pacific:
Apart from complementing the QUAD, the AUKUS will also benefit other Indo-Pacific military alliances. The ANZUS and Five Eyes alliances are among them.
Because of the following reasons, China is more alarmed by AUKUS than by Quad and other Indo-Pacific alliances:
To begin with, AUKUS is designed to safeguard the strategic interests of its partners in a region that encompasses two oceans and 38 countries.
Second, it sends a message to China that the US may do the same for other countries in the region in the future. Military and essential capabilities such as cyber, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing are being shared. It is a source of concern for China, as these are the primary areas in which it now dominates.
Third, unlike QUAD, which is a diplomatic grouping, the AUKUS is a security organization. The Quad hasn’t established a charter or invested itself with any real power. China denounced the Quad as a “headline-grabbing proposal that will vanish like sea-foam.” Similarly, the Malabar exercise is not a naval alliance. Even though the practice of cooperation designed to aid communication and interoperability in times of crisis.
Fourth, the announcement brings Australia-China ties to a new low. China is Australia’s largest trading partner, with approximately $200 billion in bilateral commerce. However, the connection has deteriorated in recent years.
China has described the new AUKUS collaboration as “severely harming regional peace and stability” for these reasons alone.
WHAT THE AUKUS ALLIANCE MEANT FOR INDIA?
The cooperation, according to Indian observers, is extremely beneficial to India. In the Indo-Pacific, India has been at the vanguard of rallying a bigger coalition of countries. Among the advantages are:
- Upgrade India’s allies in the region:
Without the requisite capability increase for all of its members, particularly Australia and Japan, QUAD is worthless. This will increase India’s partners’ self-assurance and assurance in their defense capabilities.
The AUKUS, as well as a prospective US military installation on Australian land, will aid India’s efforts to defend the Indo-Pacific.
2. Provide necessary time to India to build naval capabilities:
Furthermore, the AUKUS will allow India some crucial time to improve its naval capabilities.
3. Improve India’s ambition in International relations:
India would be able to be more ambitious in its foreign policy and defense strategy as a result of the alliance.
CHALLENGES ASSOCIATED WITH AUKUS
- Promote Nuclear arms race:
The new AUKUS organization, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, will exacerbate the arms race and harm international non-proliferation efforts. Other South Asian countries, such as North Korea, Indonesia, and Malaysia, share this viewpoint.
2. Create a Cold-war like a scenario:
These new alliances, according to strategic experts, are analogous to the Cold War era, when the entire world was divided into groups. As relations between the United States and China have deteriorated in recent years, states in the Indo-Pacific have found it more difficult to maneuver between the two superpowers.
Countries like Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, for example, may find it “less tenable” to have security links with the US while also managing relations with China, according to a former Australian diplomat.
3. Unpredictable behavior of America in foreign ties:
The United States did not even inform or contact any other regional partners; for example, France, Canada, New Zealand, and Japan not invited to join this collaboration. The United States recently stated that neither India nor Japan would be admitted to the AUKUS alliance.
The French government described the US move as a “brutal, unilateral, and unpredictable decision,” adding that “allies don’t do this to each other.” Canada, on the other hand, intends the AUKUS to be a CAUKUS with Canada as a member.
As a result, C. Raja Mohan believes that AUKUS will leave a lasting mark on US-EU ties and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as well as undermine the multinational Indo-Pacific coalition.
4. Questions the credibility of the US and its allies to counter China:
“The US military, with all its power, could not beat a group of Taliban rebels,” said a former Australian Prime Minister. Furthermore, he believes that this alliance will not pose a threat to China, since “China is not only the world’s largest state, but also the occupant and commander of Asia’s largest landmass.” China also has the world’s largest military modernization programme.
5. Trouble the relations with France:
Australia had to abandon a $65 billion deal with France in 2016 to build 12 of the world’s largest conventional submarines in exchange for joining the AUKUS collaboration. Now, France is demanding explanations from all parties and has withdrawn its envoys from Australia and the United States, calling the initiative a “stab in the back.” Furthermore, it appears that a protracted court struggle over the contract is unavoidable.
Due to France’s rising influence in the Indo-Pacific area, any future cooperation with France in the region will be impacted. For the time being, it also has an impact on the India-Australia-France trilateral. A scheduled meeting of the foreign ministers of Australia, France, and India at the United Nations was recently cancelled by France.
6. Against the 1984 nuclear-free zone policy of Australia and New Zealand:
The partnership’s announcement sparked a brief spat with New Zealand. Nuclear-powered submarines from Australia would be prohibited from entering New Zealand territorial seas under the nuclear-free zone legislation.
With AUKUS in place, India has a little less to worry about on the maritime front. The new alliance would allow the three countries to concentrate their efforts on a more difficult portion of the globe. The AUKUS trilateral will send a strong message to China, and it will bring the Indo-Pacific region closer to balancing China.