Why India Could Get ‘Major Leverage’ As Australia, UK and US Unite to Face China

US President Joe Biden (center) surrounded by screens featuring Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (left) and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the new AUKUS partnership is announced | Photo: Bloomberg

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New Delhi: Considering a major deterrence plan against China, the United States and the United Kingdom have decided to support Australia in the pursuit of nuclear-powered submarines as part of a new strengthened trilateral security partnership named AUKUS .

As part of the partnership, Australia will build eight nuclear-powered submarines in Adelaide. Over the next 18 months, the three countries will have consultations on design, technology transfer, production schedules and training modules, among others.

With this “alliance” of some sort between these three countries, India, ally of all in the framework of the Indo-Pacific construction, should also gain “a major leverage effect”, diplomatic sources told ThePrint.

India is part of the Quad framework which also includes the United States and Australia, with Japan being the fourth member of this group. The Quad will soon be holding a face-to-face leaders’ meeting in Washington, for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the United States, sources added.

India and Australia recently held their first round of 2 + 2 dialogue with the aim of deepening their defense and strategic ties. In 2020, India and Australia signed a defense pact, the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement. In addition, India will participate in Australia’s largest wargame, Talisman Saber, in 2023. The United States is already part of it.

Ahead of the AUKUS announcement, Morrison had a phone conversation with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.

Rajeshwari Pillai Rajagopalan, director of the Center for Security, Strategy and Technology at the Observer Research Foundation, explained the importance of AUKUS to India.

“Australia is now definitely ready to play a bigger role in this region, which I think is good for India as an ally… The stronger your partners, the better for you. India will also develop in this. After all, we are all like-minded countries and it is better for our partners to strengthen their capacities, ”said Rajagopalan.

“Beijing should be worried. This will make the region much more competitive in the times to come. “

Read also : Afghanistan takes center stage in India-Australia 2 + 2 talks

How AUKUS will affect the landscape

Outlining his vision for the new partnership, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “Our world is becoming more and more complex, especially here in our region, the Indo-Pacific. It concerns us all. The future of the Indo-Pacific will impact all of our futures.

“AUKUS will also strengthen our contribution to our growing network of partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region: ANZUS; our friends from ASEAN; our bilateral strategic partners, the Quad; country of the Five Eyes; and, of course, our dear Pacific family.

US President Joe Biden also said America will continue to work with ASEAN and the Quad, “as has been said earlier; our five treaty allies and other close partners in the Indo-Pacific; as well as allies and partners in Europe and around the world to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific, and build a future of peace, an opportunity for all the peoples of the region ”.

AUKUS, Biden said, will address “the current strategic environment in the region and how it may change. Because the future of each of our nations – and indeed the world – depends on a free Indo-Pacific and open, sustainable and flourishing in the decades to come ”.

According to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, “Only a handful of countries have nuclear-powered submarines, and it is a momentous decision for any nation to acquire this formidable capability and, perhaps, just as momentous, to any other state to come to its aid. . “

China slams AUKUS

The AUKUS announcement on Thursday drew heavy criticism from China, which believes it will only increase the arms race in that part of the world.

Criticizing the three countries, Beijing said they should “get rid of their Cold War mentality and ideological prejudices”, and that this “irresponsible” decision will intensify the arms race and that this partnership “will harm peace and to regional stability, “and that Australia’s neighbors should question its sincerity.

Once the fleet is ready, Australia will be able to “significantly challenge” China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, thereby asserting its authority in the region and keeping the sea lanes open, the sources said..

The United States last shared nuclear propulsion technology with an ally in 1958 as part of a similar deal with the United Kingdom, the New York Times said, citing officials in the Biden administration.

France calls it a “stab in the back”

Interestingly, the pact shocked France – a key partner in Indo-Pacific construction – because it failed to secure a € 50 billion deal with Australia for the construction of 12 cents. -Attack class sailors.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said AUKUS was a “stab in the back”.

France also said it would “need clarification” since it was an intergovernmental agreement signed with Australia in 2019.

“This brutal, one-sided and unpredictable move is a lot like what Mr. Trump was doing… The allies don’t do this to each other… It’s rather unbearable,” Le Drian said.

However, the Australian government said in a press release: “The pursuit of nuclear-powered submarine technology means Australia will no longer continue the conventional Attack-class submarine program with Naval Group (from France ) ”.

The statement also said: “The acceleration of changes in regional security makes conventional submarines unsuitable for our operational needs in the decades to come. “

(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)

Read also : Australia gives new impetus for free trade deal, sends former PM Abbott to meet with Modi government

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