AUKUS One-Year Anniversary, Indonesia’s Response During NPT Review Conference

Indonesia’s dilemma in responding to the region’s arms race is raising many concerns. Australia announced plans to acquire nuclear submarines as part of a joint US-British security alliance called AUKUS. Australia intends to respond to Chinese hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region. Exactly one year ago, Indonesia, represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in September 2021, responded with 5 points that Australia must pay attention to. A year passed. What was the commitment of the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation (TAC) between regional countries, Indonesia’s response and analysis of nuclear non-proliferation diplomacy and regional security during the NPT Review Conference September 12-16, 2022?

AUKUS is an acronym for three countries: Australia, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US). AUKUS is a trilateral security pact or international security agreement between three parties, namely Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The main purpose of this security pact is to respond to the acceleration of Chinese power with the nuclear submarine project. In response to the arms race, Indonesia gave Australia a red flag by adhering to the normativity of international law. A year later, academics need to analyze the normative perspective based on the “Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation” approach to legislation. The case study analyzes Indonesia’s causes and responses.

Regarding AUKUS, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on September 17, 2021 that he would hold a face-to-face meeting with Joko Widodo. The fall comes from the acceleration of Chinese hegemony in the South China Sea given its strategic sea lanes and potential oil and gas wealth. This stance by China is inseparable from the “nine-dash line” assertion that traverses Southeast Asia. Indonesia finally responded to the arms race in this region by making 5 critical points for Australia, most notably its commitment to the TAC. TAC is an association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN) feeling vulnerable during a war between China and the US where the supremacy of both in Southeast Asian countries is at stake. Australia and the US have agreed to promote lasting peace, friendship and cooperation in Southeast Asia.

In addition, TAC was established in 1976, and the basic principles of peaceful coexistence and friendly cooperation among the countries of Southeast Asia include Australia as the closest country to Southeast Asia. Australia needs to be mindful of international standards that apply to good relations between countries. It is a legally binding code for relations between countries in the region and beyond. The treaty was amended three times, in 1987, 1998 and 2020 respectively to allow consent to countries outside Southeast Asia and regional organizations whose members are sovereign, among others. As of January 2021 there are 43 High Contracting Parties in TAC.

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Looking at the AUKUS launch more broadly, Indonesia needs to examine the big question mark over Australia’s interests not only with the US, but also with the surrounding region. AUKUS is a binding pact between the US and Australia. While it was the beginning of AUKUS, the pact will bring several technological advantages to Australia in terms of cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence and quantum computing, among others. Moreover, there is a consolation in that.

The reason for the foundation of AUKUS lies in the context of the hegemony in the South China Sea. Disputes in the South China Sea involving China and the US are caused by multiple interests, namely political, strategic and economic. The US maintains that the LCS should be guarded without lawfully impeding the movement of military, merchant and private ships. In addition, the US stressed that coastal states respect the UNCLOS, which enshrines the peaceful norms of coastal states towards the EEZ. The US has alliance agreements with Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Australia and the Philippines in the LCS region. The US also said it had close ties with New Zealand and Singapore. Therefore, the US provides a strong development and defense opportunity for the security network of the Asian country. Sometimes Indonesia responds when the US defenses in question do not involve Indonesia, including the AUKUS. Australia and the United States have signed an agreement aimed at promoting lasting peace, friendship and cooperation in Southeast Asia.

ASEAN countries are already excited about the resurgence of multilateral cooperation (Australia, USA, Japan and India). AUKUS now appears to have added military power, said Connie Rahakundini Bakrie, a military analyst at Ahmad Yani University in West Java. Many alliances do not include Indonesia, proof that Indonesia cannot remain silent as Indonesia is one of the leading and most influential countries among ASEAN countries.

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In terms of the duties of diplomacy, melting deteriorating relationships, preventing war, building cooperation, building opinions and conducting foreign policy countries, Indonesia is responding to the arms race unfolding in the LCS case, Australia’s nuclear facility began to heat submarine. Guided by TAC and UNCLOS, Indonesia issued a precautionary warning to Australia. Based on the Federal Foreign Office, the TAC regulates conflict resolution mechanisms between peacefully involved states. The TAC was signed in 1979 by the 5 (five) heads of state of ASEAN. The TAC was amended in 1987 to allow countries in other regions to join. As of 2014, 32 (thirty-two) countries including 10 ASEAN countries have joined the TAC.

Nuclear proliferation has changed over time. At first, nuclear development was only associated with safety. Nevertheless, nuclear is now also told as a security holder. For example, in the US-India deal, the US took the lead by clearing India of the charges. Even before the US-India nuclear deal seemed to be heard, it was becoming a troubling consequence. The US became willing to issue nuclear permits in line with its national interests. Another example of US intervention on nuclear issues, Pakistan and Israel were also denied access to the nuclear technology market. Pakistan’s National Command Authority, responsible for the nuclear weapons program, was proclaimed in August 2007. The US-India nuclear deal would have implications for strategic hegemony and would allow India to have large numbers of nuclear weapons if left unmonitored.

Indonesia fears this if it is not included in the security agreement between the US country and its allies in AUKUS. Disputes in LCS near Indonesia as a signatory of the UNCLOS must take action or make recommendations along with a response. AUKUS started the project with Australia’s nuclear submarine plan, which may nudge Indonesia in the future as Australia and Indonesia are close to sea waters. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia announced the Australian nuclear submarine.

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A result of the acceleration of Chinese power in the South China Sea attracted the response of the United States to become a player in it. The United States joined Australia. Indonesia, which borders the nine-dash line and is directly affected by Chinese hegemony in the LCS, is evidenced by Chinese ships entering Indonesian waters. The non-inclusion of Indonesia as a collection of AUKUS countries forces Indonesia to also respond to the AUKUS project, namely the Australian nuclear submarine. Although the purpose is Chinese hegemony in the LCS, Indonesia should be wary of a sea country close to Australia. Therefore, Indonesia issued a statement, and its response to the Australian nuclear submarine project was withdrawn from the normative side, in particular by keeping the “Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation.” Indonesia also warned Australia to be cautious and pay tribute to UNCLOS 1982 in maintaining peace and security in the region.

During the anniversary of AUKUS, Indonesia said:

“Indonesia calls on all States parties to the treaty to gather political will and create opportunities for IAEA member states to develop a constructive approach to nuclear forces’ verification and surveillance arrangements, including with a view to improving safeguards arrangements that support surveillance measures.” for uranium destined for ship propulsion reactors in non-nuclear weapon states to prevent this material being diverted for use in a nuclear weapons program.”

A year of AUKUS commemoration in July 2022, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said satisfied with Australia’s commitment to comply with nuclear non-proliferation. The 10th Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, September 12-16, prompted discussions on AUKUS. Indonesia had rejected AUKUS, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia explained Australia’s nuclear submarines, particularly the nuclear program near Indonesian waters. A year later, Indonesia’s submission attracted a lot of international attention. This submission shows that Indonesia opposes and seeks to prevent the Australian SSN program. Regardless of the Indonesian government’s personal views, the working paper does not oppose Australia’s acquisition of SSN. In fact, it offers a way to establish a solid protection regime.