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What does AUKUS mean for India?

22-Sep-2021 by Mohinder Pal Singh

AUKUS is a trilateral Military partnership signed on 16 Sep 2021 between US, UK and Australia. As part of this treaty Australia will get 8 Nuclear powered Submarines. This is being seen in a big way to counter China’s growing influence in Pacific and South China Sea. These 8 Nuclear powered Submarines to Australia will give its Navy a fillip to do intense patrolling of seas and certainly thwart China’s hegemonic presence in this area. US President Joe Biden , while announcing AUKUS made it clear that it will only supply Nuclear powered Submarines(SSN) to Australia and not Nuclear Weapon Submarines(SSBN). Its important to know that till now Australia did not have any nuclear Submarines in its fleet. In 2016 Australia signed a $70 billion deal with France for Supply of Conventional Submarines. With AUKUS being signed this deal with France is cancelled and France is not happy with this. The France Foreign Minister made a statement yesterday that ‘France is feeling back stabbed’. However, the broader strategic question which this military deal addresses is containment of hegemonic moves of China to show its might in pacific and South China Sea. By strengthening Royal Australian Navy, US will have larger military presence in this area. Secondly Nuclear powered submarines are known for their long distance sustainability as well as movement by stealth.

What are the implications for India? Does it hamper QUAD in which India too is a signatory? are the moot questions which is there in every strategic thinker’s mind. India so far has not reacted to it officially. If QUAD is likely to contain China’s economic prowess , AUKUS is likely to contain its military muscle flexing in the seas , which it has being doing in South China Sea in the last few years. Hence , from India’s perspective AUKUS as of now seems to be a welcome move in broader strategic scenario.Apropos, its time that India also launches its second nuclear submarine Arighat soon and also plans to build more SSNs indigenously, if we have to maintain safety and security of our maritime borders as well thwart any sinister designs of China in South Asia.