AUKUS, the defense agreement among Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States designed to deter Chinese power in the Indo-Pacific region, both reflects and reinforces larger strategic shifts in the region and beyond.
It’s a long game, something the world should keep in mind as the two-year-old pact faces multiple political complications in the U.S. Congress.
Dubbed by a Democratic congressman “the most important security alliance America has forged in decades,” AUKUS actually arose from an Australian idea to bring the three countries’ defense industries closer together.
The partnership is set up into two pillars.
Pillar 1 deals with the transfer of nuclear submarine technology among the partners, with an eye on developing and producing a fleet of nuclear-powered “AUKUS submarines” for use by both the British Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy.
Details are still to come about AUKUS Pillar 2 and its focus areas: other advanced (but non-nuclear) defense technologies such as hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence and quantum computing.
The pact is promising a series of megaprojects in a technical sense — massive, complex ventures that could take decades to complete and cost billions of dollars. It’s also pledging sustained joint involvement of diverse ministries and public agencies — a whole-of-government approach — among the three nations.
For the partnership to begin to work as advertised, lawmakers in the US Congress must first pass three key authorizations. One is an exemption for Australia and the UK from Washington’s export control regime so that sensitive defense technologies can be shared more swiftly.
Source : AsiaTimes