Source : The Print
New Delhi: Reflecting the need for increased global security cooperation, the United Kingdom’s House of Commons defence select committee has called for the expansion of the AUKUS trilateral security pact between Australia, the UK, and the United States to include India and Japan.
Tobias Ellwood, chair of the Commons defence select committee, suggested including India and Japan in the AUKUS given their significance to the Indo-Pacific region, Sky News Australia reported Saturday. The committee oversees the functioning of the UK’s Ministry of Defence and its affiliate bodies.
Announced in September 2021, the AUKUS was initially supposed to be a programme for developing a new class of nuclear-powered submarines for Australia. However, it has since expanded its scope to focus on security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. AUKUS also looks at cooperation on artificial intelligence, undersea technologies, hypersonic and counter-hypersonic weaponry, and electronic and information warfare.
However, in September 2021, shortly after the AUKUS was announced, the US stated that no other country including India and Japan could be a part of the security pact. Then White House press secretary Jen Psaki had even said jokingly that if India and Japan would join, “What would it become? JAUKUS? JAIAUKUS?”
India is already a part of the Quad or the Quadrilateral Dialogue comprising India, the US, Japan, and Australia. Some analysts argue that the proposal to include India and Japan in the AUKUS is an attempt by the UK to engineer a ‘Quad + Britain’ framework.
The formation of AUKUS had also led to questions over the purpose of the Quad, with speculation that the Quad would limit itself to a non-security focus.
However, the proposal to include India and Japan in AUKUS points to a larger security framework emerging in the Indo-Pacific that incorporates all like-minded stakeholders.