AUKUS is a trilateral security partnership between the United States of America, Australia, United Kingdom in the Indo-Pacific region. It may supersede existing partnerships in the region as:
- May undermine the more well-rounded/balanced objectives of QUAD.
- May weaken the five eyes alliance group, (New-Zealand has shown displeasure over the formation of AUKUS)
- May weaken the ASEAN centrality in the region.
- USA promoting security partnership with its Anglo-Saxon allies may leave India and others out from the regional security architecture.
The strength of AUKUS as a security partnership between the UK, the USA and Australia can be seen as:
- Will greatly enhance, by providing nuclear submarines/hypersonic missiles to Australia, the capabilities of its members to project power in Indo-Pacific.
- Will give its members a credible deterrence powers towards China by deepening military capabilities.
- Enhance patrolling and surveillance power of its members in Indo-Pacific; Restore the sanctity of norms and rules-based order in the region.
- Enhance the capabilities of the like-minded countries, in the emerging domain of Artificial Intelligence, quantum technologies, cyber security etc.
However, AUKUS have raised certain concerns which could be counter-productive for India such as:
- May instigate a nuclear/conventional arms race in the region.
- China and Russia may react by supplying sensitive defense technologies to other states.
- AUKUS which is perceived as an anti-China grouping by China may lead to erosion of regional stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
- Manner in which AUKUS was formulated ignoring France may increase trust deficit between the like-minded democratic countries on other matters of global importance.
- AUKUS with its exclusionary vision may run contrary to India’s vision of an inclusive Indo-Pacific.
Though AUKUS, offers the advantage of balance of power, strategic autonomy and a check on Chinese aggression, it also has significant challenges as it has been termed as Indo-Pacific NATO. Hence, to progress with consultations and collaborations will be a prudent way forward.