Australia has explained why the AUKUS pact cannot fail
Australia’s nuclear submarine deal with the US and Britain will quickly become “too big to fail”. This was stated by the Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Richard Marles, quoted by the Guardian.
He rejected the idea that the multi-decade AUKUS plan could be vulnerable to political changes in both the US and the UK.
Marles predicted that wider diplomatic efforts to stabilize relations between Australia and China would continue, largely unaffected by this week’s announcement.
As Minister of Defence, Marles was at the center of AUKUS planning. He said he felt the “burden” and “responsibility” of announcing the massive, phased plans, which involve spending $368 billion on Australia by the mid-2050s.
One of the points of contention was Canberra’s promise over the next four years to provide $3 billion in funding for the submarine production base in the other two countries, mostly in the US, and the issue of guarantees that the US would actually sell between three and five submarines of Australia’s Virginia class in 2030.
Asked what treaties or agreements lie beneath the high-level political commitment announced in San Diego this week, Marles noted that the project is “a shared endeavor of all three parties.”
There will be a legal basis for this and there will have to be a treaty-level document between our three countries, he explained.
Taking that step, he said, puts all three countries in a position where the deal is too big for any of them to fail.
Marles stressed that all three countries are “deeply committed to each other’s success in this project” and this gives him “confidence to develop the way we want”.
“It should work for the US, it should work for the UK and it should work for Australia,” he pointed out.
Despite strong criticism from China of the AUKUS deal, which Beijing described as a Cold War-era pact that would be dangerous for the region, Marles assured Australia’s pursuit of a productive relationship with China would continue.
“China is clearly investing in its own defense capabilities, we are doing so in terms of ours,” he noted.
Asked whether submarines could become obsolete, Marles said the fact that many countries are investing heavily in submarines shows that they will be “a really useful part of the military capability for decades to come”.