Thu. May 26th, 2022

One of America’s most senior military leaders has rejected proposals that the AUKUS Security Partnership may soon be extended to include other allies such as New Zealand or Japan.

The head of the US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), Admiral John Aquilino, also stated that Australia’s decision to join the tripartite group was driven by fears of China’s rapid military progress.

In September, the United States, Britain and Australia unveiled the AUKUS agreement, which examines options for replacing Australia’s aging Collins – class submarines with a nuclear-powered fleet.

Since the announcement, there have been both public and private diplomatic calls to invite other strategic allies into the partnership, with the outgoing British defense chief even hinting in October that the grouping was never intended to be exclusive.

Admiral Aquilino appeared at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California this weekend, and Admiral Aquilino gently pushed back against any talk of an impending expansion to AUKUS.

“We have not discussed specific additions to AUKUS with other nations at present – but it should not detract from or impair our ability to carry out increased cooperation in ways other than mere nuclear propulsion,” he said.

While the United States did not see a need to expand AUKUS, the INDOPACOM commander said his nation was: “Ready to take on any of the additional efforts that our partners and allies are interested in and start these discussions.”


Admiral Aquilino also discussed Australia’s motives for joining AUKUS, suggesting that China’s growing dominance was the primary cause.

“It has driven Australians to assess the capabilities they need and this was an Australian decision to be able to invest in a nuclear submarine program that provides the capabilities they need against the security threats in the region that they see,” he said.

“AUKUS is a different and extra security relationship, which will be extremely useful in maintaining the peace and prosperity of the region – so I certainly welcome it.

“Australia has taken a big step and I think it will increase security in the region”.

Collins class submarines HMAS Dechaineux, HMAS Waller and HMAS Sheean
Australia wants nuclear-powered submarines to replace their aging Collins-class submarines.(ADF)

Asked whether there were any concerns in the region about U.S. involvement, the top naval officer said he had not discovered such a feeling during recent meetings with treaty partners.

“For 80 years we have created the security and prosperity that has existed throughout the Indo-Pacific – the United States is a Pacific nation, we have been there, we have been with these allies and partners for all those years.

“Japan, Korea, Thailand, Australia and the Philippines – all I see from these nations, as well as the rest of the nations in the region, is that there is no concern about the strength of the American alliances and partnerships.”



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