Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom are entering a new defence and security agreement which includes plans to share advanced technologies, research, industry, and defence capabilities – including nuclear submarine technology.
AUKUS will work to not only defend the three nation’s global interests, but to keep its citizens safe amid rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific region.
The new partnership was announced on Thursday by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden in a virtual event streamed live.
Scott Morrison described AUKUS as “a new enhanced trilateral security partnership”.
Prime Minister Morrison says the alliance between the three nations is based on mutual values.
“We must now take our partnership to a new level,” said Mr Morrison, “a partnership that seeks to engage, not to exclude; to contribute, not take; and to enable and empower, not to control or coerce”.
Australia will end its $90 billion submarine deal with France and instead spend the next 18 months working toward acquiring a fleet of nuclear powered submarines with the assistance of the UK and US.
The leaders have stressed the submarines, which are to be built in Adelaide, will not be armed with nuclear weapons, but will rather be powered by nuclear reactors.
Mr Morrison emphasised that “Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability”.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says AUKUS will only deepen the friendship between the three nations.
“Only a handful of countries possess nuclear powered submarines, and it is a momentous decision for any nation to acquire this formidable capability,” said Mr Johnson, “and perhaps equally as momentous for any other state to come to its aid”.
“But Australia is one of our oldest friends – a kindred nation – and a fellow democracy, and a natural partner in this enterprise”.
US President Joe Biden says the trilateral agreement will formalise co-operation between the three allies in the Indo-Pacific region.
“We need to be able to address both the current strategic environment in the region, and how it may evolve,” said President Biden, “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”.