搜索 解放军报

ROK seeks to join AUKUS


来源:China Military Online 责任编辑:Chen Zhuo
2024-05-14 22:43:34

By Li Wei and Dong Xiaochao


The US Navy's nuclear submarine USS Annapolis (SSN 760) visits Australia in March 2024. 


Following New Zealand and Japan, the ROK is also seeking to join the AUKUS security alliance. Early this month, the ROK and Australia held the sixth foreign and defense ministers' meeting in Melbourne, Australia, to discuss the possibility of the ROK joining AUKUS. At a joint press conference, ROK Defense Minister Shin Wonsik said that the ROK welcomes AUKUS members to consider it a Pillar 2 partner and that the ROK's defense science and technology capabilities will contribute to the development of AUKUS Pillar 2.


Australia's Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Richard Marles appreciatedthe ROK's positive attitude. He called AUKUS Pillar 2 a technology-sharing agreement rather than a security alliance. He said that the ROK has impressive technological prowess and is a strategic partner that shares value with Australia, and the two sides should maintain close cooperation in the field of technology.


The US, the UK and Australia signed an agreement to form AUKUS alliance in September 2021. The agreement consists of two pillars. Pillar 1 is the to deployment of US conventionally-armed nuclear submarines in the non-nuclear state Australia, which is a non-nuclear state, and then the to make joint development of next-generation nuclear submarines by the UK and Australia; Pillar 2 is to accelerate the coordinated development of key technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, hypersonic weapons and electronic warfare and apply them to the military field to increase interoperability between the armed forces of AUKUS members.


Since early this year, under the leadership of the US, AUKUS has repeatedly discussed the expansion of its membership, seeking to bring the key allies of the US into Pillar 2, and enable the US and its allies to achieve in-depth technical cooperation and capability integration, and enhance their integrated deterrence and joint offensive and defensive capabilities in high-tech warfare.


AUKUS is considering listing the ROK as a Pillar 2 partner mainly because of the latter's technology R&D capabilities. In recent years, the ROK's military industry has developed rapidly, and its advantages in cyberspace security and other aspects are relatively prominent. In addition, as the leader of AUKUS, the US wants to bring countries like Japan and the ROK into the alliance, in an attempt to maintain its hegemony in military science and technology by increasing the technological barriers. The accession of Japan and the ROK will facilitate the US' efforts to obtain technology from those countries and transfer industrial chains to its allies to meet the interests of the US military-industrial complex.


The ROK also has its own considerations in seeking to join AUKUS. Since taking office, ROK President Yoon Suk Yeol  has abandoned the country's previous relatively balanced diplomatic policy. Instead, the ROK began to follow the steps of the US, seek a closer US-ROK alliance and US-Japan-ROK trilateral military and security cooperation, and intimately interact with NATO. It continues to strengthen its ties with the West in the field of military security, for the purpose of securing a place in the process of geopolitical landscape reshaping, and enhancing its status as a big power and a proxy of the West in the Asia-Pacific region. At the same time, the ROK has practical considerations for dealing with the so-called "DPRK nuclear threat".


As an exclusive military security cooperation mechanism, AUKUS follows a Cold War mentality featuring zero-sum games and bloc confrontation. Turning a blind eye to the common concerns of countries in the Asia-Pacific region and the international community, the US the UK, and Australia continue to send signals of expanding AUKUS, and deliberately create divergences, which will place the Asia-Pacific region under the shadow of a "new Cold War". This will not only increase the risks of arms races in the Asia-Pacific region, but is also likely to push the region into a dangerous bloc confrontation, which is not conducive to regional peace and stability.