Boosting Indo-Pacific security, prosperity through AUKUS

U.S. flag, U.K. flag and Australian flag (©

A free and open Indo-Pacific is critical for a safe and prosperous world, as the region makes up over half of the world’s economy.

That’s why in September 2021, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States created an enhanced trilateral security partnership called AUKUS. The initiative will strengthen the ability of each to support security and defense interests in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

“AUKUS will bring together our service members, our scientists, and our industries to maintain and expand our edge in military capabilities and critical technologies,” President Biden said when the partnership was announced.

“This is about investing in our greatest source of strength — our alliances — and updating them to better meet the threats of today and tomorrow,” he said.

Deepening partnerships

Sailors raising U.S. flag atop submarine (Australian Dept. of Defence/DoD)
Sailors assigned to the USS Asheville submarine salute the national ensign (the maritime flag identifying U.S. nationality) after arriving at a Royal Australian Navy base in February. (Australian Dept. of Defence/DoD)

As part of the AUKUS partnership, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom will leverage each other’s technology to build nuclear-powered submarines for use by Australia and the United Kingdom. While the submarines will rely on nuclear generators for propulsion, they will not carry nuclear weapons of any kind.

The technology, which has powered U.S. and U.K. submarines, has a long track record of efficiency and reliability. “This technology is proven. It’s safe,” Biden said.

On March 13, AUKUS partners announced their pathway for Australia to acquire conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines under AUKUS.

Once complete, Australia’s new, sovereign nuclear-powered submarine capability will launch Australia into the ranks of other powers that already operate nuclear-propelled submarines in the region, including the U.K., India, France, the People’s Republic of China and Russia.

The AUKUS partners will continue to consult with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to set the highest nuclear nonproliferation standards for naval nuclear propulsion.

Sweeping impact

AUKUS is one component of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy, which lays out a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific that is connected, prosperous, secure and resilient.

To advance this vision, the United States works alongside partners and allies to build connections and coalitions across countries, governments and communities.

In addition to AUKUS, the United States continues to support:

  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), whose members are Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • The Quad, consisting of the U.S., Australia, India and Japan, showcasing how democracies working together can deliver benefits to the region.
  • Partners in the Blue Pacific, consisting of Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, which will work with Pacific partners to expand opportunities.
Graphic on how the future of the Indo-Pacific affects people everywhere (Graphic: State Dept./M. Gregory. Photo: © Ethan Daniels/ Globe: © 32 pixels/
(State Dept./M. Gregory)

As President Biden said when AUKUS was announced in September 2021, the United States will continue to work with partners “around the world to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific, and build a future of peace, opportunity for all the people of the region.”