In an interview with 9News, Tom Tugendhat, the Chair of the UK Parliament’s powerful Foreign Affairs Selection Committee, argued; “The reality is that several years of Chinese bullying mean that it’s pretty clear what you’re dealing with.”
Mr Tugendhat, who says he was aware of what has become known as AUKUS “many months ago”, said the agreement “indicates is an extremely close relationship between our three nations.
“It demonstrates not just a bet on today but a very strong bet on the future,” he said.
“The political dimension has changed because the threat has changed.”
The cornerstone of today’s announcement was the sharing of military secrets and technologies to allow Australia to build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines to be delivered in over a decade.
“We’re bringing an extraordinary submarine capability, the small modular reactors that power our submarines they are the best in the world,” Mr Tugendhat said.
The UK already operates the Astute-class nuclear submarine.
Mr Tugendhat, a former military officer who did tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, believes the benefits of the nuclear-powered vessels lie in their ability to allow submarines to spend more time underwater.
“Total secrecy, total silence thousands of miles away from your shores it turns your submarine fleet from being a secret in-shore fleet, into a true bluewater total silent nuclear fleet. That’s a huge capability for Australia,” he said.
“It means you become even more essential partner to countries like Japan and indeed the UK and US.
“Having the ability to stay silent for long is absolutely essential to the secrecy of your submarine fleet.”
It’s understood the top-level agreement was worked on behind the scenes for more than a year.
US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison met in person at the G7 summit in Cornwall in June.
The AUKUS pact was announced this morning.
“I can tell you I first heard about it many months ago, and it was an Australian initiative and frankly this is a very, very impressive piece of foreign policy and diplomacy by our Australian partners,” Mr Tugendhat said.
“This is an entirely appropriate response by Scott Morrison’s Government it’s an extremely welcome one.
“(It) demonstrates that Australia is what it always has been a absolutely tough partner to her friends and a deterrer of her enemies.”
The three countries also plan to work together on artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and undersea capabilities like unmanned drones.
“Not having AUKUS would leave us all frankly weaker,” Mr Tugendhat said.
“The direction is clear where it ends up leading us I can only dream at the moment.
“What I hope we do next is start working with other partners with France with Japan and bring in those other countries that wish to share the kind of technological innovation we’re going to develop and to stand with us in defending the liberties of our people and people around the world.”