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Context: Australia will be receiving up to five Virginia class submarines in the early 2030s under the AUKUS partnership.

Understanding AUKUS

What is it?

  • AUKUS is a trilateral security alliance between the United States, United Kingdom and Australia on similar lines of QUAD which is a strategic dialogue between four countries that include India, the US, Australia and Japan.
  • It aims for deeper cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and greater sharing of defence capabilities within the alliance.
  • The primary objective of this partnership is to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region while countering China’s territorial ambitions in the area.
    • China’s increasing aggression in the South Pacific (South China Sea) and Indian Oceans, along with its territorial claims, has led to the need for bolstering Australia’s defence capabilities.


Components QUAD AUKUS
Members India, Japan, Australia, and the US. Australia, the UK, and the US.
Objectives Enhance regional security, promote free and open trade, democracy, and rule of law. Develop and share advanced defence technologies and enhance military cooperation to counter Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific region.
Focus Regional security, counterterrorism, economic growth, and development of infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific region. Security and defence partnership, enhancing military capabilities of Australia, the UK, and the US in the Indo-Pacific region.
Scope Primarily a diplomatic and economic grouping that seeks to address regional security challenges through dialogue and collaboration. Primarily a security and defence partnership.

AUKUS and India

The AUKUS partnership presents both opportunities and challenges for India.


  • Enhanced security cooperation: AUKUS aims to enhance military and security cooperation among the three member countries, which could help India in its efforts to counter Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Access to advanced defence technologies: As part of the partnership, Australia will acquire nuclear-powered submarines, which will require advanced technology for their development and maintenance. This could potentially create opportunities for Indian companies to participate in the development of these technologies.
  • Strengthened defence ties with Australia: India already has a strong strategic partnership with Australia, and the AUKUS partnership could potentially strengthen defence ties between the two countries even further.
  • Complementing QUAD: It will strengthen the Quad’s agenda to keep the Indo-Pacific region free, open and inclusive.
    • AUKUS could also extend itself to bolstering the Quad’s efforts on maritime exercises, security and efforts in countering COVID-19, climate change, cooperating on critical technologies, and building resilient supply chains.
  • Embracing the idea of an “Anglosphere”:
    • Despite India’s difficult past relations with the Anglosphere, the AUKUS deal has revived geopolitical bonds between the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
      • An Anglosphere is also called the world of English-speaking people bound by common political beliefs, similar legal traditions, and shared geopolitical interests.
    • India could explore opportunities to expand its ties with the English-speaking world, particularly in the areas of technology and defence.


  • China’s reaction: The AUKUS partnership is seen by some as an attempt to contain China’s rise in the Indo-Pacific region, which could potentially lead to a negative reaction from China. This could create tensions in the region and impact India’s relations with China.
  • New challenge in Indo-Pacific:
    • Apprehension: There is concern that the AUKUS deal may lead to an increase in nuclear attack submarines in the Eastern Indian Ocean, which could impact India’s regional pre-eminence.
    • Crowding submarines: The potential crowding of submarines in the region may lead to erosion of India’s influence.
  • Non-proliferation concerns: The AUKUS partnership involves the transfer of sensitive nuclear technology, which could raise concerns about non-proliferation. India, which is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), could potentially face challenges in accessing nuclear technology as a result of these concerns.
  • AUKUS may undermine the importance of QUAD because of the following reasons:
    • Reluctance of QUAD in the military front: AUKUS has a strong military component to with Australia’s plans to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, whereas QUAD’s military domain is still in evolving phase (E.g. Malabar exercise). Thus the former may cast shadow over QUAD in the military domain.
    • Changing power game may negate the importance of QUAD: U.S.’s favoritism for Australia and partnership with UK represents a changing power game in global geo-politics. This may lead U.S. engaging with the Quad to less substantive issues and more importance to AUKUS.
    • No clear agenda of QUAD: with too many items in its agenda and very little actual work, the QUAD faces the danger of being diluted over time.
  • Impact on India’s arms imports: As Australia acquires nuclear-powered submarines from the US and the UK, it may reduce its reliance on other countries for arms imports, including India. This could potentially impact India’s arms imports from Australia.
  • Unreliability due to Exclusion of France: The US’s decision to exclude its long-time ally France from the grouping, despite being a NATO partner, has raised doubts about USA’s commitment to its allies.

What should India do to safeguard its strategic interests with the AUKUS?

India can safeguard its strategic interests with the AUKUS by considering:

  • Diplomatic engagement: India can engage in diplomatic talks with the US, UK, and Australia to ensure that the AUKUS deal does not adversely affect its strategic interests in the region.
  • Strengthening partnerships: India can strengthen its partnerships with like-minded countries such as Japan and Australia to counterbalance China’s influence in the region.
  • Developing its own capabilities: India can focus on developing its own military and technological capabilities to maintain its regional pre-eminence and avoid overreliance on external actors.
  • Building trust: India can build trust with the AUKUS partners by engaging in joint military exercises and intelligence sharing to build confidence and promote closer ties.
  • Maintaining a balanced approach: India can maintain a balanced approach towards the AUKUS deal, ensuring that it does not take sides or fuel existing tensions in the region.
  • Strengthening Quad: India should work towards strengthening the Quad, which could provide a counterbalance to AUKUS and help promote a rules-based regional order. India should leverage the Quad to promote regional stability and balance of power.
  • Investing in regional economic cooperation: India can invest in regional economic cooperation with its neighbours and partners to promote stability and growth in the region.

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What is iAUKUS?

AUKUS is a trilateral security alliance between the United States, United Kingdom and Australia on similar lines of QUAD which is a strategic dialogue between four countries that include India, the US, Australia and Japan.

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