Britain’s outgoing Chief of Defense Staff has signaled that the new trilateral AUKUS security pact with the United States and Australia could be extended to include other allies such as Japan.
- General Sir Nicholas Carter says “AUKUS is not designed to be exclusive in any way”
- He said there are still “question marks” over information sharing between AUKUS partners
- Government and diplomatic figures have played down the comments, saying there are no plans to expand
In an extensive discussion at a think tank in Washington, General Sir Nicholas Carter has reflected on the formation of the new military group that will work to develop a nuclear submarine fleet for Australia.
General Carter has told the Center for New American Security that he believes there are still some “question marks” about information sharing between AUKUS partners.
“I think like all of these things, we’ll see how it goes – I mean, I think there’s some question marks about how we share information and that kind of thing,” he said.
“I hope this could act as a catalyst for all of us to be a little more open-minded about how we share information with allies and partners because it would be helpful.”
Asked whether countries like Japan feel excluded from the new partnership, General Carter suggested that the nation could eventually join forces with the remaining Five Eyes partners Canada and New Zealand.
“It’s a first step in terms of industrial development between like-minded partners, and I absolutely know that the architects reckon that if it could be made more inclusive, if there were opportunities there, then that was the itinerary it would go.”
“The same goes for Five Eyes (the intelligence-sharing alliance in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US) and also other like-minded countries.”
Government and diplomatic sources have downplayed the British general’s comments, telling ABC that there are no plans for AUKUS to include other nations.
During his tenure, the outgoing defense chief also spoke about Britain’s growing military deployments to the Indo – Pacific.
General Carter said the presence of the Queen Elizabeth Carrier Strike Group in the region “is not going to happen every year”, but said Britain intends to have two warships operating continuously and having a “strike group from time to time other “there.
In late November, General Carter was succeeded as Chief of Defense Staff by Sir Antony Radakin, a naval officer involved in the early discussions leading up to the AUKUS agreement.