US Is Strengthening AUKUS (I)

The United States is seeking to expand its allied base in the Indo-Pacific region and attract more members to AUKUS alliance.

In April 2024, following the review of applications for membership in the AUKUS bloc submitted by Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, representatives of the law enforcement agencies of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States issued a joint statement.

There has been a discussion about the possibility of expanding the organization over the past few years. The sentiments promoting the expansion of the alliance intensified after the Alliance entered the second phase of its development, the so-called “Pillar II”, which aims to jointly develop military technologies. Apparently, the American allies are extremely interested in joining the Alliance. But what are the prospects for its existence?

Initially, the essence of AUKUS was to help Australia create some kind of basis for maintaining stability in the region, thereby increasing the authority of the US ally. The first stage of the organization’s development, Pillar I, which involved the deployment of nuclear submarines of the Virginia class (USA) and Astute-class (Great Britain) on Australian bases on a rotational basis, the exchange of experience between the military departments of the countries and the training of Australian Navy personnel, was supposed to end with a project to create new AUKUS class submarines.

However, so far this has not happened. The countries of the Alliance have relied on expanding cooperation in the region, trying to draw all new countries into the Alliance, thereby forming a kind of counterweight to the growing power of China.

The Americans are trying to focus on the development of a nuclear submarine fleet, and there is a reason for this. It is the development of this area that will allow us to cover and control the area necessary for Americans and maintain our own order on it. The geographical position of Australia suggests that this is the country that will have to take a central role in the Alliance, because due to its location, troops stationed on the coast of the mainland are able to control strategic positions in the Indo-Pacific region. Australia plays the role of a link between the Pacific and the Indian Ocean, and, according to the Americans, should only strengthen its position in the territory entrusted to it.

In addition to the desire of the Alliance countries to build their own nuclear submarine, Pillar II also includes expanding cooperation in the fields of cybersecurity, hypersonic and counter-hypersonic weapons, the development of quantum technologies, as well as modern electronic warfare.

The key goal of the Alliance, according to the author, is to unify the legal systems of states and standardize technological processes that are necessary for further harmonization of cooperation and successful implementation of projects in those areas that are key for the United States. However, there is another area: the arms trade. The countries want to bring legislation regulating the process of creating and launching the production of defense products under a single denominator, facilitate the conditions for arms exports for members of the organization and strengthen ties between enterprises of the military-industrial complex of the participating countries.

The United States is seeking to expand its allied base in the Indo-Pacific region. This is acceptable only if it facilitates the entry into the Alliance of members with whom Washington has close military and political ties.

The next step is to join the Alliance of Japan and South Korea. The United States has been thinking for a long time about the possibility of creating a US–South Korea–Japan triangle. With the development of AUKUS, this initiative is beginning to take on certain features.

Relations between Seoul and Tokyo are at a historically unprecedented high level: the armed forces are conducting exercises, and in August 2023 a small trilateral conference was held at Camp David, following which the participants announced a broad agenda in the field of cybersecurity. However, further steps are still unclear.

The long–term relationship between Korea and Japan is a task that will have to be worked on for a long time. The parties are united by a common difficult history and orientation towards the United States. Both countries also have a highly developed military industry focused on American standards, which is extremely important in the context of the need to standardize the military-industrial systems of the participating countries.

The United States pays special attention to Japan. Washington supports the country’s desire to strengthen its defense industry, in particular, the American authorities supported Tokyo in adopting updated strategic documents. The Japanese have revised Three principles for the transfer of military equipment and technologies, which facilitate both the export of weapons and reduce the conditions necessary for it.

If the United States has sought to pursue a protectionist policy since the Cold War in the field of protecting advanced military technologies that are being developed in the country, today Washington, on the contrary, is interested in technologically advanced countries working effectively in close cooperation with the Americans, contributing to the protection of American interests in the region. By softening political barriers, Japan will be able not only to allow the United States to benefit from the supply of Japanese military products and technology exchange, but also to enter new markets as an arms exporter.

Perhaps the main obstacle lies in how other players in the region will react to the expansion of the Alliance. If, by and large, everything is clear with India, then China may increase its military grouping, which will pose a threat to the peaceful coexistence of the two blocs. Today, the situation around Taiwan continues to be much to be desired, but the threat on the other hand will create the need for China to further invest in the development of its own armed forces, increasing the degree of tension in the region.

to be continued

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