What The Australia, U.S. and UK Defence Pact Actually Means

What The Australia, U.S. and UK Defence Pact Actually Means
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You might have heard Australia has signed a new defence pact with the United States and the United Kingdom. You might have also heard that the deal means the three countries will be pushing a joint security agenda in the areas of advanced tech, such as artificial intelligence and cyber.

But what does this actually mean?

On the surface, the defence pact means Australia, the U.S. and the UK have joined forces to push the message that we’re all in this together.

On Wednesday in the U.S., President Joe Biden announced the new pact known as AUKUS. The idea is to share advanced technologies and promote information sharing.

Through AUKUS, the three countries have vowed to “foster deeper integration of security and defence-related science, technology, industrial bases, and supply chains”.

The creatively-named AUKUS initiative will make it easier for the three countries to share information in areas like cyber, artificial intelligence, quantum, and ‘undersea’ systems.

The first initiative of the defence pact is to acquire nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy. It will take the trio 18 months to “seek an optimal pathway to deliver this capability”.

With possession of these nuclear-powered submarines, Prime Minister Scott Morrison committed to “adhering to the highest standards for safeguards, transparency, verification, and accountancy measures to ensure the non-proliferation, safety, and security of nuclear material and technology”.

As Politico pointed out, we basically agreed to this in 2010 as part of our commitment to Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act.

The deal hasn’t gone down too well, unsurprisingly. Business Insider has the in-depth details of this for you here.

Where to next for the defence pact?

Biden was joined virtually by Morrison and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seal the deal. Morrison said the defence pact was taking their partnership “to the next level”. Johnson characterised it as “adding a new chapter in our friendship”.

The three leaders will work on nutting out exactly what the ‘cyber’ and ‘AI’ parts of the agreement look like. There’s little-to-no information on that right now. But as part of their commitment as QUAD members — the U.S. and Australia, as well as Japan and India — there is already a deal to share info on emerging technologies.

Morrison is heading to the U.S. next week for a QUAD meeting, so stay tuned for that.

If you want to know more about the submarine deal itself, head over here.