AUKUS Alliance | UPSC Notes

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• Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States signed the AUKUS security agreement on September 15, 2021, for the Indo-Pacific area.

• Under the pact, the US and UK will help Australia buy nuclear-powered submarines. The two countries will also work together on advanced cyber, artificial intelligence and autonomy, quantum technologies, undersea capabilities, hypersonic and counter-hypersonic, electronic warfare, innovation, and information sharing.

The pact will be different from the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance, which also includes New Zealand and Canada, because it will focus on military power.

• Australia is about to join an elite group of only six countries that have nuclear-powered submarines: India, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China. It will also be the only country with these ships that doesn’t use nuclear power for civilian purposes.

• The security group AUKUS will focus on advancing strategic goals in the Indo-Pacific region.

Even though the US has said that the group is not aimed at China, the fact that it is focused on the Indo-Pacific makes it an alliance against China’s moves in the South China Sea.

Through the Five Eyes alliance, these three countries, along with Canada and New Zealand, already share a lot of information.

Importance of AUKUS Alliance

• New Engagements: It will involve a new design of engagements across new technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, cyber capabilities, and more undersea capabilities.

Australia will be able to buy nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs) with the help of the UK and the US.

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It also says again that the US still wants the UK, not the EU, to be its main defence partner after Brexit.

• Stopping the rise of China: Even though this hasn’t been said directly, AUKUS will stop the rise of China, especially its rapid militarization and aggressive behaviour in the Pacific area, especially in and around the South China Sea.

AUKUS wants to make sure that the Indo-Pacific area, which includes the South China Sea, is free and open.

• Shifting US priorities in Asia: It also helps the US shift its attention to Asia after Afghanistan.

• Regional Security in the Indo-Pacific: The AUKUS deal aims to solve core US concerns about regional security, deterrence, and the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific.

• It will make Australia’s contributions to its other relationships, like the QUAD, stronger. The Quad and AUKUS are different, but they work well together.

Challenges

• Competition with China is getting worse

AUKUS will stop China from expanding its navy and could hurt its economic interests.

If something like this happens, their relationship with China will get worse.

• Disagreement in ASEAN: Any quick growth in Australia’s naval power is sure to make people nervous in the area.

Concerning the rise of AUKUS, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is not as united as it used to be.

Implications on India

• The pact gives India, a key US friend and member of the Quad, the freedom to decide how to work with its neighbour without officially joining a plan to keep China in check.

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• AUKUS is a larger group of Indo-Pacific countries that work together to deal with China. Any step that helps India’s friends get better at what they do is a good one.

However, AUKUS could force China to be more daring by sending more warships and subs to the Eastern Indian Ocean.

So, any move that wasn’t well thought out could hurt India’s interests.

Ways Forward:

• India needs to show that it stands with its Quad partners, especially now that problems with China are rising again.

• Instead of making a security alliance, India should work on close military cooperation with strategically important countries.

Alliance of Five Eyes

The Five Eyes alliance is a way for five English-speaking democracies to share intelligence. These are the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The alliance was made during the Cold War, which was fought between the US and the USSR and their allies from 1946 to 1991.

• They needed the alliance to share sensitive information about their enemies on all fronts.

• It is often called the most successful intelligence partnership in the world.