The allied trio will also work on getting Australia a nuclear-powered submarine.
A new security arrangement between the U.S., the United Kingdom and Australia will focus on advancing cyber and other emerging technology with military capabilities.
The partnership, titled AUKUS, “will bring together our sailors, our scientists and our industries to maintain and expand our edge and military capabilities in critical technologies such as cyber, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and undersea domains,” President Joe Biden announced Wednesday.
Senior administration officials briefing reporters on the new partnership insisted it is not targeting China. It is “not aimed, or about any one country,” they said. “This is about a larger effort to sustain the fabric of engagement and deterrence in the Indo Pacific. We have a history of innovation, upgrading capabilities.”
But it’s difficult to decouple tensions in the region from Beijing amid territorial disputes with countries such as Malaysia and the Philippines. And the stated goals of the partnership have long been discussed in the context of the threat China poses to U.S. economic and national security.
“We'll also work to sustain and deepen information and technology sharing,” the officials said. “I think you're gonna see a much more dedicated effort to pursue integration of security and defense related science, technology and industrial bases and supply chains. This will be a sustained effort over many years to see how we can marry and merge some of our independent and individual capabilities into greater trilateral engagement as we go forward.”
A prominent item on the partnership’s agenda is supporting Australia’s quest for a nuclear-powered submarine. In a virtual announcement of the partnership, Biden, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison all stressed their commitment to nuclear nonproliferation, one of few areas where the U.S. and China are also collaborating.
“As a key project under AUKUS, we are launching consultations with Australia for its acquisition of conventionally armed nuclear powered submarines,” Biden said. “I want to be exceedingly clear about this. We're not talking about nuclear armed submarines. These are conventionally armed submarines that are powered by nuclear reactors. This technology is proven, it's safe. The United States and UK have been operating nuclear powered submarines for decades.”
The project will last for 18 months and involve technical, strategic and Navy teams from all three nations, the officials said.