In the early days of AUKUS, the United Kingdom provided fewer official documents on the partnership, though those of particular importance are included below. One of the most significant developments for the UK’s foreign and defence policy in the past year was the release of its Integrated Review Refresh in March 2023, the successor of the 2021 Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Foreign Policy and Development.35 The Refresh document was released in order to reflect on the significant changes to the geopolitical landscape that had followed the release of the 2021 Integrated Review – including sharpening tensions with China, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a cost-of-living crisis, and energy pressures.
Like its American and Australian partners, the British government has increasingly focused on the issue of securing supply chains for critical minerals and strategic technologies in order to operationalise AUKUS. The United Kingdom is also working bilaterally with Australia on the area of critical minerals and, in April 2023, London and Canberra signed a joint UK-Australia pledge to secure future supplies of critical minerals and also inaugurate a new British Consulate-General in Perth.
In August 2023, the British parliament published two documents that serve to provide a holistic summary of the AUKUS agreement from the British perspective: the first is a Research Briefing on Pillar I: the SSN-AUKUS submarine program; the second is a Research Briefing on Pillar II: the Advanced Capabilities. There were also various debates in Parliament that focused on all aspects of the AUKUS agreement, with particular focus on Pillar I and how it will impact the United Kingdom, including the revitalisation of the military industrial base. In August 2023, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee – controlled by the governing Conservative party – released a report focused on the Integrated Review and the Indo-Pacific, which included a recommendation that Japan and South Japan join AUKUS. In addition, the report recommended that the United Kingdom strengthen its relationship with Australia.
Underscoring the momentum taking place within the AUKUS partnership, in October 2023 representatives from Australia and the United Kingdom joined Royal Navy personnel in Faslane, Scotland to develop skills for the maintenance of nuclear-powered submarines. This was the first joint AUKUS visit to support the development of the Australian submarine maintenance force.
35 “Integrated Review Refresh 2023: Responding to a More Contested and Volatile World,” UK Government, March 2023, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1145586/11857435_NS_IR_Refresh_2023_Supply_AllPages_Revision_7_WEB_PDF.pdf.