ONLY SIX countries in the world—America, Britain, China, France, India and Russia—currently operate nuclear-powered submarines. Australia may become the unlikely seventh. In a statement and joint televised appearance on September 15th, Joe Biden, Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison, America, Britain and Australia’s leaders, announced what they described as an “enhanced trilateral security partnership”, awkwardly named AUKUS. Its first initiative, and the jewel in its crown, will be collaboration on future nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy. The pact, which will be signed formally in Washington next week, reflects their shared concern over China’s growing power, and America’s eagerness to beef up the military capabilities of its Asian partners.
AUKUS is based on an Australian idea. It will cover diplomatic, security and defence co-operation in the Indo-Pacific. It includes joint work on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and “additional undersea capabilities”, such as underwater sensors and drones.