The USA, Great Britain and Australia have signed a security pact for the strategically important Indo-Pacific region. As a first step, the US wants to provide Australia with technology to build nuclear-powered submarines. The US government officials emphasized that the provision of nuclear weapons is not planned. “We will continue to fulfill all of our nuclear non-proliferation commitments,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
According to the US, the new alliance also provides for cooperation in the fields of artificial intelligence, quantum technology and cyber issues.
The partnership aims to secure peace and stability in the region in the long term, said US President Joe Biden at the virtual announcement of the pact, to which Morrison, Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had connected from their respective capitals.
“We’re not talking about nuclear-armed submarines here. These are conventional nuclear-powered submarines,” said Biden. “We have to be able to deal with both the current strategic environment in the region and its possible developments.” An open and free Indo-Pacific region is crucial for the future and must endure.
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A senior representative of the White House had previously announced that the United States shared this technology with Great Britain around 70 years ago. According to information from the news magazine The Economist, six countries around the world currently have nuclear-powered submarines: the United States, Great Britain, China, France, India and Russia . The Economist regards the security pact as the most important defense policy cooperation of the last decades.
Rejection from China and New Zealand
The security pact, which is supposed to be called Aukus based on the English abbreviations of the three participating states, is also about a military policy of deterrence against China . The USA and Australia are concerned about China’s increasing claim to power in the Indo-Pacific region. However, the White House official stressed that the new alliance is not directed against any particular country.
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China’s embassy in Washington, DC, condemned the security pact. Countries should “not form an exclusive bloc that targets or harms the interests of third parties. In particular, they should abandon their Cold War mentality and ideological prejudices,” said embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu.
New Zealand also responded immediately to the new alliance. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the island state will not allow Australian nuclear submarines to enter its sea area. In doing so, she reaffirmed her country’s policy of rejecting nuclear power. “New Zealand’s stance on banning nuclear powered submarines in our waters remains unchanged,” said Ardern.
The new battle of strength is taking place in the Indo-Pacific
For the USA, the rivalry with China has taken the place of the old East-West conflict. The two great powers compete not only militarily, but at least as much economically and technologically. In the Indo-Pacific in particular, they vie for influence. States such as Australia, South Korea and Japan are gaining importance as allies of the USA.
Countries like Great Britain and France, which as former colonial powers are still present in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, are also becoming more and more militarily involved there. The British have just sent their new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, to the South China Sea, and the French have let a nuclear submarine drive through the disputed sea area.
The agreement overturns a billion dollar arms deal that Australia had once concluded with France. According to this, the French company Naval Group should have built twelve submarines for the Australian military — a deal worth the equivalent of almost 56 billion euros. A few hours after the video went, however, the Australian Prime Minister Morrison announced that Australia would no longer maintain the agreement with the French company. The decision is “not a change of heart, but a change in requirements”.
Unlike Great Britain, Australia is not a member of the western defense alliance NATO, but is considered a close partner of the organization. Australia has participated in NATO military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition to the bilateral relationship, the USA and Australia are also linked via the so-called Five-Eyes partnership of the secret services. The alliance includes Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Great Britain and the USA.
Originally published at https://zaviews.blogspot.com.