AUKUS Pact: In an unprecedented move, France recalled its ambassadors from Australia and the United States on 17th September 2021. As an Indian, we have only heard of recalling ambassadors from Pakistan whenever there is high tension between both countries.
Recalling ambassadors are only heard among countries that do not share a healthy relationship with each other. But the US and Australia is an ally of France. So what has happened recently that France took such a massive step. AUKUS pact is your answer. What is AUKUS? Keep reading this article and we will answer all your answer.
AUKUS is a military and security pact between Australia, United States, and the United Kingdom. It was announced on the 15th of September 2021 ahead of the Quad summit. According to the pact, America and the United Kingdom will assist Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.
Experts say that this agreement is to counter China's influence in the Indo-Pacific considering that the relationship between China and Australia has been deteriorating under the current government. However, none of the concerned countries have openly said so. The AUKUS is not just about nuclear submarines.
It also talks about mutual development in the field of "cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, Quantum technologies, and additional undersea capabilities" between the three countries. The pact will also increase the strength of the Australian air force and navy as they will acquire new long-range strike capabilities from the pact.
Soon after the pact, Australia canceled €56 billion worth of French-Australian submarine deal. French foreign minister called this pact "a stab in the back". The deal was mediated by the UK after the Australian Navy chief asked the UK to help them acquire nuclear-powered submarines. Joe Biden, Scott Morrison, and Boris Johnson talked together on this matter in England during June 2021 G7 meetings. France however, was reportedly unaware of these developments.
As of now, only 6 countries in the world have nuclear submarines. They are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and India. Australia was interested to buy nuclear submarines from France and they even had a deal already in existence.
But the problem with French submarines is that it is fuelled by low enriched uranium at less than 6%. They require refueling every 10 years. This would be a headache for Australia as it lacks civil nuclear capability. However, American and British submarines are powered by reactors that can run as long as the life of the submarine.
Hence Australia joined this pact to acquire nuclear propulsion technology from the US the same way it has been sharing with the UK. The Royal Australian Navy will now procure at least eight nuclear-powered submarines loaded with conventional weapons.
US military inside Australia
Australia also informed that they are expecting the deployment of all kinds of American military aircraft on their land on a rotational basis. The pact would result in more military exercises between Australia, America, and other regional partners.
All three nations also informed that they are pledging to cooperate in the field of cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and additional undersea capabilities.
It is also important for them to cooperate in this field because of increasing Chinese dominance. For example, Chinese company Huawei is one of the biggest players in 5G technology. Australia and the US have intentionally banned Huawei from 5G tender in their country on the security ground.
Why exactly Australia wants a nuclear submarine?
Australia would be the only country that the US is sharing this technology with. Nuclear submarines are fast, hard to detect and they can be inside the water for a very long time. It is important for the US to deploy such weapons in this region to continue its influence.
It is also important for Australia because its relation with China is going downhill. China has unofficially warned to bomb Australia with Nuclear bombs several times and continues to threaten it officially (Read More). Australia has however confirmed that it has no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons.
Conclusion | World responses
China, as expectedly, criticized this group and warned Australia. Global Times, which is funded by the Chinese Communist Party, wrote that Australia would be attacked by China as an example for the rest of the world. They said that this deal undermines regional peace and stability.
France too retaliated as the Attack-class submarine project was canceled by Australia at the last minute. France was also angered because it was not made aware of the complete situation. The UK did not have to share this new development with France as it is not a part of the European Union anymore and is free to establish relationships outside the block.
Indonesia expressed its concern for the continuing arms race and power projection in the region. European Union and members of the EU like Germany criticized the way the deal was done. They said that one of our members has been treated in such a way that is unacceptable. They demanded an apology from Australia. The Philippines and Taiwan welcomed the pact saying "the enhancement of a near-abroad ally's ability to project power should restore and keep the balance rather than destabilize it".