What is AUKUS? US, UK and Australia announce new defence pact- Know all about it

AUKUS is a new enhanced security partnership between three major economies- Australia, UK, and US.  Under the pact, Australia will build a nuclear-powered fleet of submarines with the support of US and UK. 

Created On: Sep 16, 2021 12:19 IST
US, UK and Australia announce new defence pact- AUKUS
US, UK and Australia announce new defence pact- AUKUS

AUKUS: US President Joe Biden announced a new defence pact between the US, UK and Australia on September 15, 2021. The pact known as AUKUS will enable sharing of advanced technologies, expertise in artificial intelligence, cyber underwater systems and long-range capabilities. 

Australian PM Scott Morrison said that the first major initiative under AUKUS initiative will be the delivery of a nuclear-powered submarine fleet for Australia. He said, " We will seek to determine the best way forward to achieve this. We intend to build these submarines in Australia in close cooperation with UK and US." 

Responding strongly to the new pact, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern banned Australian nuclear submarines from New Zealand waters, stating that New Zealand would not change its nuclear-free stance.

What is AUKUS?

AUKUS is a new enhanced security partnership between three major economies- Australia, United Kingdom and the United States. Australian PM Scott Morrison said that AUKUS is a partnership where our technology, our scientists, our industry, and defence force all working together to deliver a safer and more secure region. 

The enhanced trilateral security partnership will see Australia build a nuclear-powered fleet of submarines in a joint endeavor with the US and UK with the main focus being on interoperability, commonality and mutual benefit. 

The joint statement on the formation of trilateral defence partnership between Australia, US and UK read that the three nations are deeply committed to upholding their leadership on global non-proliferation. 

AUKUS: Key Focus 

Under AUKUS, the leaders of Australia, UK & US guided by their shared ideals and commitment to international rules-based order, will focus on resolving deepen diplomatic, security & defence cooperation in Indo-Pacific by working along with partners to meet challenges of the 21st century. 

UK PM Boris Johnson stated that the aim of AUKUS will be working hand in glove to preserve security & stability in the Indo-Pacific. He clarified that the submarines will be powered by nuclear reactors and not armed with nuclear weapons. 

Australia to continue as a non-nuclear weapons state?

Australia will remain committed to fulfilling all of its obligations as non-nuclear weapons state, including with the International Atomic Energy Agency.  

The joint statement emphasised that Australia will continue its position as a non-nuclear weapons state and will not be fielding nuclear weapons. It will, however, use nuclear propulsion systems for the vessels to guard against threats.

The nuclear-powered submarines will be built in Adelaide in South Australia state, in close cooperation with the United States and Britain.

Why is this important?

UK PM Boris Johnson called it a momentous decision for Australia to acquire the technology and said it would make the world safer.

US President Joe Biden said, " We all recognize the imperative of ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific over the long term." He added saying, "We need to be able to address both the current strategic environment in the region and how it may evolve because the future of each of our nations and indeed the world depends on a free and open Indo-Pacific enduring and flourishing in the decades ahead."

AUKUS to counter China?

The new trilateral security pact, AUKUS is perhaps another effort by the US and its allies to counter China's growing power and influence in the South China Sea. There was though no mention of China while announcing the partnership. 

Background 

France already has a substantial Indo-Pacific presence as a key partner & ally in strengthening the security & prosperity of the region. US President Joe Biden said that the US looks forward to working closely with France & other key countries as they go forward.

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