AUKUS Sets the Details of the Cooperation Program by Early 2022
The AUKUS Trilateral Joint Steering Group was established as part of the governance structure of AUKUS in September 2021. The Joint Steering Group for Advanced Capabilities met on December 9, and the Joint Steering Group for Australia’s Nuclear-Powered Submarine Program met on December 14.
Participants identified opportunities for collaboration on a range of critical capabilities and technologies. They committed to significantly deepening cooperation and enhancing interoperability in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. In particular, participants committed to finalising a work program about advanced capabilities by early 2022. Beyond the four initial areas of focus outlined in the Joint Leaders’ Statement on AUKUS—cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and additional undersea capabilities—participants also discussed other additional capabilities. They agreed to identify potential opportunities for collaboration in those areas.
During the Joint Steering Group meeting on Australia’s Nuclear-Powered Submarine Program, the participants reaffirmed the trilateral commitment to bring the Australian capability into service at the earliest possible date. The delegations agreed on the next steps over the 18-month consultation period to define the optimal pathway for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines and for the Working Groups to examine in detail the critical actions necessary to establish an enduring program in Australia. Since September, the participants reviewed achievements, including the signing of the Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information Agreement and the path forward to bring that into force, which will enable full and effective consultation between the governments over the 18 months.
The participants also discussed ensuring that the submarine program upholds their longstanding leadership in global non-proliferation, including through continued close consultation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The participants underscored that the three countries remain steadfast in supporting the nuclear non-proliferation regime and its cornerstone, the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. They reaffirmed that the three governments would comply with their respective non-proliferation obligations and commitments and intend to implement the strongest possible non-proliferation standards.
An official statement from the White House said the delegations discussed the “intensive work underway” across the governments and the “significant progress made in the three months since the announcement of AUKUS”.
AUKUS is primarily a military and intelligence sharing arrangement that seeks to bolster security in the Indo-Pacific.