Defense Minister: South Korea in discussions to enter AUKUS tech pact

Defense Minister Shin Won-sik revealed discussions about potentially sharing advanced military technology with the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia within the framework of the AUKUS partnership.

South Korea’s Defense Minister Shin Won-sik revealed discussions about potentially sharing advanced military technology with the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia within the framework of the AUKUS partnership.

This consideration arose during meetings between South Korea and Australia’s defence and foreign ministers in Melbourne. The AUKUS agreement initially focused on providing Australia with submarines powered by U.S. nuclear technology to counter China’s military expansion. However, discussions now extend to potential collaboration in various security technologies like artificial intelligence, electronic warfare, and hypersonic systems under the AUKUS Pillar 2 framework.

AUKUS, or Aukus, is a trilateral security pact focused on the Indo-Pacific region. It was announced on September 15, 2021, and involves three nations – Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Under this partnership, the U.S. and U.K. will assist Australia in procuring nuclear-powered submarine capabilities. The core objective is to deepen security cooperation among the three allies in the Indo-Pacific, a region that has witnessed growing strategic competition and tensions in recent years.

Japan is also progressing towards formal discussions to join AUKUS Pillar 2’s technology development and sharing initiative.

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles expressed appreciation for South Korea’s efforts to strengthen ties with Japan, emphasizing the positive implications for regional security. He highlighted the opportunity for Australia to engage with both Korea and Japan, emphasizing their shared commitment to upholding the rules-based order in the region and globally.

South Korea and Australia reiterated their commitment to strengthening their forward-looking bilateral relationship, which includes enhancing joint military training. Defense Minister Shin highlighted their participation in last year’s Talisman Sabre and Korea’s Freedom Shield exercises. Discussions encompassed a wide array of shared interests, from expanding cooperation in the Indo-Pacific to defence industry collaboration and addressing North Korea’s evolving military threats.

This meeting marked the first in over two years, following the last session held in Seoul in September 2021. Initially planned for October last year, it was postponed due to heightened tensions in the Middle East. Notably, Australia is the sole country, aside from South Korea’s ally, the United States, with which regular talks between foreign and defence chiefs are conducted. Cho and Shin also engaged in separate bilateral discussions with their Australian counterparts during their weeklong visit.