The United Kingdom and the United States are trying to contain the global criticism over their controversial Aukus Deal with Australia. All three countries jointly announced on Sept 15 that they have made a trilateral security pact among themselves. The next day, US President Joe Biden revealed that this agreement also involved helping Australia to procure nuclear-powered submarines. According to reports, this deal has been signed to counter China’s influence in the contested South China Sea. Other countries have condemned this move and raised fears that it could provoke China to start a war.
The pact will also allow the partners to share artificial intelligence, cyber, undersea, and many other military-grade technologies. France referred to the deal as a “stab in the back” by the US while China accused all 3 countries of having a “cold war mentality”. New Zealand also stated that submarines under this pact were banned from operating in its waters.
How the Alliance is Defending Aukus Deal?
US security forces claimed that the administration got close to Australia in response to hostile behavior by China. It accused China of violating international law by conducting destabilizing activities in global trade. The US also alleged that China coerced and pressured other countries using its trading power in the Sea. Therefore, in face of fears, the US claimed that it will not leave Australia alone to face Chinese tactics.
The UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson backed the US claim and vowed to uphold international law by sharing its sensitive technology with Australia. House of Commons raised the question of whether the Aukus deal could drag the UK into war as well should China ever invade Taiwan. Johnson replied that the UK would defend the international law at any cost, a message that was meant for other countries, especially China. Taiwan sees itself as an independent democratic state but China considers it a breakaway province and has reportedly been pressurizing it as well.
How China and Europe are Responding?
The alliance is mostly against China but France has expressed its own dismay with Australia’s decision to join this pact. According to reports, the formation of the Aukus deal also leads to the termination of Australia’s Future Submarine Program (FSP) with France. Previously Australia signed a 90 billion USD contract with a French manufacturer to obtain non-nuclear submarines. Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian took a jab at Joe Biden, saying he did the same thing former US President Donald Trump would have done. He mentioned that the deal excluded a European ally at the time when the Indo-Pacific region was facing extraordinary challenges. Whereas, UK, US, and Australia continued to stress that the pact will bring peace and stability to the region in the long term.
China on the other hand has announced to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in response to the pact. CPTPP was initially created by the US in 2016 to counter China’s influence but Trump pulled the US out in 2017. It became effective in 2018 with 11 countries including New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and Japan. New Zealand acts as the depository for this partnership. This will further boost China’s trading power while Aukus can allow Australia to become the 7th nation in the world with nuclear-powered submarines.
When Does the Manufacturing Start?
Currently, only 6 countries have a limited number of nuclear submarines. The US has a total of 68 nuclear subs; Russia got 29; China has 12; UK 11; France 8; and India has only 1 at the moment. According to the reports, Australia wished the weapons to be built in the UK because over there the submarines were made by Rolls Royce.
However, the manufacturing process is reportedly under an 18-month initial review. Additionally, there are also reports about some of the UK’s nuclear submarines and reactor cores been taken out of service.