South Korea considers joining alliance for sharing military technology with Australia, US and UK

South Korea's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cho Tae-yul, left, is alongside South Korea's National Defense Minister Shin Won-sik during an Australia and South Korea Foreign and Defence Ministers meeting in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, May 1, 2024. (Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Pool Photo via AP)

By ROD McGUIRK Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — South Korea is considering sharing advanced military technology with the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia through the so-called AUKUS partnership, South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik said.

Shin said the possibility was discussed during two days of meetings between South Korea and Australia’s defense and foreign ministers that ended in the Australian city of Melbourne on Wednesday.

The United States and the United Kingdom agreed in 2021 to provide Australia with a fleet of submarines powered by U.S. nuclear technology under the AUKUS agreement to counter a growing military presence from China. AUKUS is an acronym for Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The countries could become involved in cooperation on a wider range of security technologies including artificial intelligence, electronic warfare and hypersonic systems through what is known as AUKUS Pillar 2.

Shin welcomed South Korea’s invitation from the three AUKUS partners.

“We do welcome that AUKUS members are considering Korea as an AUKUS Pillar 2 partner and Korea’s defense science and technology capabilities will contribute to the peace and stability of the development of AUKUS Pillar 2 and regional peace,” Shin said through a translator.

Japan is also moving toward formal talks to become part of AUKUS Pillar 2’s technology development and sharing.

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles welcomed South Korean efforts to build on its relationship with Japan, which along with Australia, the United States and India form a security dialogue known as the Quad.

“We see this is a very, very positive step forward in the strategic landscape of the region and represents a huge opportunity for Australia to engage with both Korea and Japan,” Marles told reporters.

“Korea and Australia are working together to uphold the rules-based order within our region and, in fact, within the world,” Marles added.