AUKUS ALLIANCE

GS Paper II

News Excerpt: 

Australia is set to provide ($3bn) to British industry to help support the construction of nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS deal with the United Kingdom and the United States.

What is AUKUS?

AUKUS, or the Australia-United Kingdom-United States Security Partnership, is a trilateral security alliance established in September 2021. It aims to enhance the security and defense capabilities of the member countries by fostering deeper cooperation in various areas.

  • The first initiative under AUKUS involves supporting Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy. 
    • This initiative is aimed at bolstering Australia's maritime defense capabilities and enhancing its strategic position in the Indo-Pacific region. 
    • The acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines signifies a significant advancement in Australia's naval capabilities and underscores the commitment of the AUKUS partners to strengthen regional security.
  • The second initiative focuses on enhancing joint capabilities and interoperability among the AUKUS partners. This initiative aims to deepen collaboration in key technological domains such as cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and additional undersea capabilities
    • By promoting information sharing and technology sharing, as well as integrating security and defense-related science, technology, industrial bases, and supply chains, 
      • The AUKUS partners seek to enhance their collective ability to address emerging security challenges effectively.

Opportunities associated with AUKUS : 

  • AUKUS provides an opportunity for the member countries to enhance their security and defense capabilities through joint initiatives, increased interoperability, and technology sharing. 
    • This collaboration strengthens integrated deterrence against adversarial actors, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • The partnership stimulates the defense industry in member countries, providing opportunities for innovation, technology development, and economic growth. 
    • It also assures the future submarine program for the United Kingdom, aligning with its security priorities and technology-centric approach to capability.
  • AUKUS contributes to regional stability by bolstering the deterrence capabilities of member countries and promoting a balance of power grand strategy to deter aggression and coercion. 
    • Strengthening Australia's defense capability enhances its role as a security partner in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • AUKUS supports an integrated industrial base among the member countries, facilitating more efficient and coordinated development and support of advanced capabilities. 
    • This enhances the resilience and competitiveness of the defense industries in the partner nations.
  • The partnership fosters deeper cooperation in key technological domains such as cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, and quantum technologies, driving innovation and advancing defense capabilities.
    •  It provides opportunities for technological exchange and collaboration to address emerging security challenges effectively.

Challenges associated with AUKUS : 

  • Australia's nuclear submarine plan raises proliferation concerns, especially in China and Southeast Asia, necessitating robust safety and non-proliferation standards.
  •  Developing, operating, and supporting nuclear submarines requires a skilled workforce, posing challenges amid low unemployment rates and competition from other industries.
  • The substantial cost of the submarine program and questions regarding public support pose challenges to its implementation. Ensuring public confidence and support for the program is crucial for its success and sustainability.
  • Some critics question the underlying strategy of relying on U.S. commitment in Asia and raise concerns about the implications for sovereignty and dependence on a future U.S. administration. 
  • Challenges in U.S. shipyards' capacity to support the provision of Virginia Class submarines for Australia and the need for reforming the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to enable technology cooperation under AUKUS. 

Implications of AUKUS for India

  • Enhanced Strategic Leverage: AUKUS strengthens India's options in dealing with China, potentially boosting strategic leverage in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Increased Collaboration with France: AUKUS creates opportunities for strategic collaboration between India and France, particularly in maritime security, enhancing regional stability.
  • Strategic Autonomy Maintained: India can maintain strategic autonomy and engage with China on its own terms, leveraging its partnership with the US and its position in the Indian Ocean.
  • Focus on Non-Military Challenges: Amidst regional turbulence, AUKUS allows India to prioritize non-military challenges like vaccine diplomacy and technology sharing, while ensuring robust security responses in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Assured Security Response: The agreement assures India that security threats in the Indo-Pacific will be addressed, enabling focus on developmental agendas.

WAY FORWARD

  • Increasing international awareness of Australia’s legislation, which prohibits the development of nuclear weapons and uranium enrichment facilities, would help reassure other countries that Australia remains serious about its nuclear non-proliferation commitments.
  • An early decision to use lifetime reactor cores would help address concerns about the diversion of nuclear material from the naval reactors into a nuclear weapons program.
  • Immediate initiation of work with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to develop new monitoring arrangements would increase confidence that Australia intends to use its nuclear reactors for naval nuclear propulsion only.
  • US to champion voluntary moratorium on new nuclear cruise missile deployment, engage in decommissioning dialogue to address escalation risks. AUKUS partners pledge not to erode export controls on sensitive technologies, repair and recommit to MTCR to reduce arms racing dynamics.
  • Reinvigorate regional diplomacy to demonstrate AUKUS commitment to Asia-Pacific peace and security. Priorities: resume DPRK nuclear talks; create Northeast Asian security framework; strengthen ASEAN's security role; uphold nuclear-free zones; address Indonesian and Malaysian concerns on nuclear vessel movement.

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