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Recently a new trilateral security partnership was announced between Australia, the UK and the USA for the Indo Pacific. This new partnership is known as AUKUS and the major highlight of this arrangement is the sharing of US nuclear submarine technology with Australia. The first major initiative of AUKUS would be to deliver a nuclear-powered submarine fleet for Australia thereby giving it a nuclear heft in the Pacific where China has been particularly aggressive. Apart from this AUKUS will also involve the sharing of cyber capabilities and other undersea technologies. This alliance is considered to be most significant security arrangement between these three nations. Meanwhile, their European allies have not been happy about this new trilateral partnership. France has even ordered the recall of its ambassadors to Washington and Canberra. The European Union has also announced its own strategy to boost political and defense ties in the Indo-Pacific. US has meanwhile briefed India on this new trilateral pact AUKUS stressing it will not detract from either the bilateral cooperation with New Delhi or multilateral ones like QUAD.


  • Under the AUKUS alliance, the three nations have agreed to enhance the development of joint capabilities and technology sharing, foster deeper integration of security and defence-related science, technology, industrial bases and supply chains.
  • Under the first major initiative of AUKUS, Australia would build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines with the help of the US and the UK, a capability aimed at promoting stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

 China’s response:

China has condemned the agreement as “extremely irresponsible”.

Concerns raised by China:

  • The Alliance undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race.
  • It shall reinvent a “Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice”.

Rationale behind the formation of this alliance:

The new partnership was announced in a joint virtual press conference. And while China was not mentioned directly, the three leaders referred repeatedly to regional security concerns which they said had “grown significantly”.

  • In recent years, Beijing has been accused of raising tensions in disputed territories such as the South China Sea.
  • Western nations have been wary of China’s infrastructure investment on Pacific islands, and have also criticised China’s trade sanctions against countries like Australia.

Nuclear-powered submarines:

These submarines are much faster and harder to detect than conventionally powered fleets. They can stay submerged for months, shoot missiles longer distances and also carry more.

  • Having them stationed in Australia is critical to US influence in the region, analysts say.
  • The US is sharing its submarine technology for the first time in 50 years. It had previously only shared technology with the UK.
  • Australia will become just the seventh nation in the world to operate nuclear-powered submarines, after the US, UK, France, China, India and Russia.
  • Australia has reaffirmed it has no intention of obtaining nuclear weapons.

Technology sharing to Australia: Significance to India:

  • In 2020, India and Australia had signed a defence pact — the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement.
  • Besides, India is going to participate in Australia’s biggest wargame, Talisman Sabre, in 2023. The US is already part of it.
  • It will augment the capacity of the Quad of which both the US and Australia are members.
  • It also aims at improving defence capabilities of Australia which is a strategic partner of India.
  • India and Australia recently held their first round of 2+2 dialogue in an effort to deepen their defence and strategic ties.
  • This is a first of its kind defence initiative of the US in the Indo – Pacific, since Quad has not clearly outlined its defence motives clearly. Presently the Quad and AUKUS are likely to move parallelly with possibility of future merger.


  • The message from Aukus is that while the current churn in the Indo-Pacific may have begun with Chinese actions, it is now other regional players that are willing to set new terms of engagement with Beijing. They can effectively counter Chinese Aggression and their ‘middle kingdom’ agenda alongside the Quad.
  • This partnership will become increasingly vital for defending their interests in the Indo-Pacific region and, by extension, protecting people back at home.
  • The UK and US are already leading members of NATO – the world’s most important defence alliance.
  • The work done by AUKUS will support shared goals in new regions, promoting stability and protecting people against new and emerging threats.
  • Whether or not the purpose of AUKUS is to contain China’s aggressive territorial ambitions, the imperatives of the Indo-Pacific would be better served by broadening strategic cooperation initiatives of this sort to include other powers that are deeply invested in the region, including India, Japan, and South Korea.