Indian Ocean Power Competition

AUKUS Partnership for Indo-Pacific


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: AUKUS, Quad

Mains level: Maritime cooperations for Indo-Pacific

The Biden administration has announced a new trilateral security partnership for the Indo-Pacific, between Australia, the U.K., and the U.S. (AUKUS).

What is AUKUS?

  • AUKUS, as the partnership is being called, will strive over the next 18 months to equip Australia with nuclear propulsion technology.
  • As part of this, Australia will acquire nuclear-powered submarines with help from the UK and the US.
  • It will also involve a new architecture of meetings and engagements between the three countries, as well as cooperation across emerging technologies (applied AI, quantum technologies and undersea capabilities).
  • Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines, when they deploy, will be armed with conventional weapons only and not nuclear weapons.

Why such an alliance?

  • Tensions have been high between Australia and an increasingly assertive China, its largest trade partner.
  • Australia banned Chinese telecom giant Huawei in 2108 and its PM called for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19 last year.
  • China retaliated by imposing tariffs on or capping Australian exports.

Not to substitute Quad or others

  • This alliance does not and will not supersede or outrank existing arrangements in the Indo-Pacific region such as the Quad, which the US and Australia form with India and Japan, and ASEAN.
  • AUKUS will complement these groups and others.


  • There has been only one other time that the US has shared as “extremely sensitive” submarine propulsion technology — more than 60 years ago, back in 1958, with Great Britain.
  • The US is working to move past the 20-year war in Afghanistan and the chaotic U.S. exit from Kabul.
  • The Biden Administration has put countering China at the center of his economic and national security efforts, describing it as the biggest challenge of this era.

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