The chairman of the British Parliament’s defence committee, Tobias Ellwood, has called for Japan and India to be included in the AUKUS defence cooperation, which involves the transfer of technology for Australia’s nuclear submarines from the UK and the US.
Conservative MP Ellwood advocated for the agreement’s expansion to the Indo-Pacific region, as well as the establishment of a NATO-like body to coordinate defence cooperation, according to Skynews Australia.
The announcement comes ahead of next week’s talks between Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Defense Minister Richard Marles with their British and American counterparts.
The agreement, which aims to enable Australia to build a nuclear submarine fleet with technology transferred from the United States and the United Kingdom, was signed on September 16, 2021. Despite the fact that China was not mentioned in the agreement, the three countries’ emphasis on “growing regional security concerns” has led to speculation that the cooperation is a pact aimed at balancing Beijing’s military power in the region.
China reacted to the agreement by stating that it would jeopardise regional peace and stability as well as international non-proliferation efforts.
The Beijing administration has called attention to the transfer of nuclear technology and materials to Australia, which does not have nuclear weapons, and has demanded that the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] inspect it under the nuclear proliferation regime.
Australia signed a $40 billion contract with a French naval group in 2016 to build new submarines to replace the ageing Collins-class submarines.
This agreement has also been described as France’s largest defence agreement in its history. However, numerous issues arose in the agreement. Many of Canberra’s desires were not granted. One of these was the domestic manufacture of submarine parts.
Naval Group, a French company that won a tender in which it competed with Japan and Germany five years ago, intended to build a total of 12 new-generation submarines for Australia. The first submarine was scheduled to arrive in 2030.
Australia, however, unexpectedly cancelled the agreement in September 2021 and announced that the submarines in question would be manufactured by the AUKUS countries.