India and the Anglosphere

Source– The post is based on the article “India and the Anglosphere” published in “The Indian Express” on 15th March 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Regional and global groupings

News– The road map to Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines, announced this week in San Diego by the leaders of Australia, the UK, and the US

How do different countries look at AUKUS?

For Canberra, London, and Washington, the AUKUS will promote deterrence and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

For China, AUKUS, along with Quad, are small alliances built by US in Asia to contain it.

There is a range of opinions among Australia’s neighbors. Their individual reactions have been shaped by their perspectives on the shifting Asian security dynamic.

What are the challenges for AUKUS?

It will have to overcome several technical and policy issues in implementing the AUKUS road map. The current estimated cost of the project will be around $250 billion. An Australian-built nuclear submarine will enter service after three decades.

Projects of this scale involve significant delays and cost escalation. The current political support in the three democracies for the AUKUS framework may not endure in the years ahead.

What are several phases in acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines by Australia?

The first step in the implementation of AUKUS involves deploying Australian personnel in the American and British nuclear submarine establishments. There will also be more port calls by US and British nuclear-powered submarines in Australia.

The second phase will start in 2027. Washington and London will work to deploy nuclear submarines in Australia. The objective is to accelerate the development of the Australian naval personnel, workforce, infrastructure and regulatory system necessary to establish solid SSN capabilities in Australia.

In the third phase, the US will sell up to five nuclear-powered submarines to Australia.

The fourth phase will start in the late 2030s. London will deliver the first British-built AUKUS submarine to Canberra.

The final phase will begin by the early 2040s. The nuclear submarines built in Australia will begin to roll out.

What will be the strategic consequences of AUKUS plans for Asia and India?

First, AUKUS will transform Australia’s strategic capabilities. It will make it a powerful factor in shaping the Indo-Pacific regional security environment.

The AUKUS involves collaboration between the three countries in a range of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and quantum computing. It will shape regional security scenarios.

India tends to underestimate the extraordinary scientific and technical skills in Australia. There will be dramatic upgradation of those Australian capabilities in the coming years. This should also open the door for greater S&T cooperation between India and Australia.

Second, the Indian foreign policy community tends to neglect the continuing global strategic salience of Britain. Its profile in Asia is boosted by the AUKUS deal.

The UK is the lynchpin in the AUKUS. It has a critical role in designing and developing a new class of nuclear-powered submarines.

The UK abandoned its security responsibilities East of Suez in the late 1960s. After that, it had become marginal to Asian security all these decades. AUKUS will change that by reinforcing London’s renewed claim for a long-term role in Indo-Pacific security.

Third, AUKUS has reinvigorated the idea of an “Anglosphere”. It refers to enduring geopolitical bonds between the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. There has been rapid expansion of India’s ties with the English-speaking world in recent times.

The intelligence sharing among the “Five Eyes” has remained an important feature of their partnership. The AUKUS arrangement is more narrowly focused on the Indo-Pacific. It will look beyond information sharing. It will promote integration of the technological and defence industrial bases of the three countries.

Fourth, the three countries have emphasised that AUKUS’s purview does not involve nuclear weapons.

China has launched a campaign against the AUKUS. It is said that it is against the non-proliferation norms. But the NPT does not prohibit AUKUS-like cooperation between nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states.

AUKUS countries have made it clear that they will negotiate strictest terms for the international monitoring of the transfer and use of nuclear material under the AUKUS arrangement.

Finally, the US has made it clear that it does not want the expansion of the AUKUS arrangement to other partners like Japan and India. India has no expectation of such cooperation.

India’s interest lies in something else. AUKUS marks a significant change in US regional strategy for the Indo-Pacific. In the past, the US sought to promote regional security unilaterally through its own military capabilities.

Washington is now eager to boost the strategic capabilities of its allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific. The US focus is different with different partners. But the objective is to promote local balances of power.

India can develop a unique set of arrangements with Washington and its allies. It will strengthen India’s comprehensive national power and enhance its contribution to regional peace and security.

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