Is AUKUS and Australia’s pledge to acquire nuclear-powered submarines a turning point in Indo-Pacific power relations?
This Info Flash focuses on the creation of the AUKUS partnership, with the main aim being that of assisting the Australian Navy in the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs). The agreement raised concerns regarding the possibility of escalating tensions between China and Taiwan (Sabbagh et al. 2021). Nevertheless, despite vocal dissent from China and France, the agreement has gone ahead. The beginning of the Australian SSNs' military journey inevitably marks an important moment for the delineation of Indo-Pacific security lines. While American President Joe Biden insists that the arrival of submarines to the Australian coasts should not be understood as an act of aggression towards China (Holland & Brunnstrom, 2023), tensions remain in the region. This work assesses how the acquisition of SSNs has impacted Australian military capability and how the developments introduced in March 2023 have the potential to reshape contemporary nuclear warfare and the equilibrium of the Indo-Pacific region.