Home » Japan and South Korea should be invited to join Aukus, UK parliamentary committee says
Defence Featured Global News Indo-Pacific Military National Security News

Japan and South Korea should be invited to join Aukus, UK parliamentary committee says

Influential UK foreign affairs select committee recommends Japan and South Korea join the security partnership to develop critical technology

Australia and other countries in the Aukus security pact should ask Japan and South Korea to join them to develop advance defence technology, according to an influential UK House of Commons committee.

The proposed expansion would likely focus on activities such as cyber, AI, quantum and undersea technologies – but not the multi-decade project to deliver nuclear-propelled submarines to Australia.

The foreign affairs select committee said the UK government “should propose to Australia and the United States that Japan and South Korea be invited to join an Aukus technological defence cooperation agreement”.

In the report published on Wednesday, the committee noted that Aukus was “not purely about Australia acquiring a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines”.

“There is a cyber and advanced technology sharing and joint development component that could be equally, if not more, significant,” the report said.

“There is an in-principle agreement amongst the three powers to work together as closely as possible across the full suite of advanced technologies, including cyber, AI, quantum and undersea technologies, including in submarine detection.

“These could deliver tangible outcomes more quickly than the submarine programme.”

The proposal to bring Japan and South Korea into the Aukus tent was outlined in a report focusing on the UK’s “tilt” to the Indo-Pacific region and how the country should deal with a more assertive China.

The report’s release coincides with a trip to China by the British foreign secretary, James Cleverly.

The report by the Conservative party-controlled committee also includes a potentially contentious proposal for the UK to seek to join the Quad, a diplomatic initiative that brings together Australia, India, Japan and the US.

Beijing has repeatedly denounced Aukus and the Quad as anti-China groupings that seek to “stoke division and confrontation and revive the cold war mentality”. South-east Asian countries could also be nervous about the proposed expansion.

The select committee said it had heard “differing opinions from witnesses on whether the UK should apply to join the Quad, with some strongly supporting UK membership, others suggesting that it is too early to consider this now and one group against the proposal altogether”.

Walter Ladwig, a senior lecturer in international relations at King’s College London, argued “it would be premature to talk about adding new states at a time when the group is beginning to find its feet”.

Another submission co-authored by Asmiati Malik, an adviser to the Indonesian government writing in a personal capacity, said Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia were sceptical of the Quad, partly because of the grouping’s “reputation as an anti-China alliance seeking to securitise the region”.

“Movements towards a Quad Plus, bringing in extra powers, is likely to heighten concerns as much of the desire to extend the Quad comes from outside of the region,” the submission said.

But the UK select committee said: “While understanding the reservations, we see advantage in working with the Quad to develop a coordinated strategy covering the whole Indo-Pacific maritime area, and applying to join the Quad at such time as the existing members feel is appropriate.”

A spokesperson for the Australian defence minister, Richard Marles, said the Aukus members were “committed to delivering a conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarine capability for Australia” in line with the plan announced in March.

Marles has previously said he wanted to grow Australia’s defence industry integration with Japan, including “when ready via our advanced capabilities work in Aukus”.

However it is understood the Australian government wants to ensure the advanced tech initiatives are delivering new capabilities for the existing Aukus partners in the first instance.

There has previously been speculation about Japan, South Korea, India, New Zealand and Canada as potential partners in non-submarine Aukus projects.

Source: The Guardian