World French foreign minister calls US-Australia submarine deal a 'stab in the back'
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on Thursday fervently condemned the abrupt end to a previously agreed to by Australia, calling the Aussie government’s new U.S.-U.K. deal a "stab in the back."
"We had established a relationship of trust with Australia. This trust has been betrayed," Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s minister of foreign affairs, told French news outlet.
Late on Wednesday, the $40 billion submarine contract signed in 2016 with a French company was passed over for the newly established partnership dubbed "AUKUS."
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With Australia making a deal with the United States and United Kingdom to begin a nuclear-powered submarine program, we can expect the Aussie subs will look a lot like the latest versions in the US and British arsenals. © U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries by ChrisOxley/Released A dolphins swims in front of Navy's newest submarine, the attack submarine USS John Warner, during its sea trials in May. The John Warner was commissioned on Saturday, August 1, in a ceremony in Norfolk, Virginia.
While the deal with France would have provided Australia with conventional submarines, the new alliance will instead grant the Indo-Pacific nation with highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology.
"This will allow the Department of Defense to meet its mission to protect Australia and its national interests, and that of our regional friends, into the future," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Twitter.
Video: Australia to build eight nuclear-powered submarines under new Indo-Pacific security pact (Reuters)
"We intend to build these submarines in Adelaide in close cooperation with the U.K. and the U.S. But let me be clear, Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons," he added.
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Advances in technology since World War II have enabled far more complex submarine operations, but those operations are still challenging.Decades later, submarine special-operations have become a staple of the Navy SEAL Teams and one of the US military's most valuable capabilities.
The trilateral partnership has been viewed as a direct challenge to China’s activity in the region, though France argued its vested interest in the Indo-Pacific region shows a lack of "coherence" by its western allies.
"As the only European nation present in the Indo-Pacific with nearly two million citizens and more than 7,000 military personnel, France is a reliable partner that will continue to fulfill its commitments, as it has always done," Le Drain said in a statement.
The French minister further accused Biden of making an "unpredictable decision" and compared his reliability to that of Donald Trump’s.
"This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr. Trump used to do," Le Drian said Thursday. "I am angry and bitter. This isn't done between allies."
Rich Edson contributed to this report.
France is escalating its disputes with Australia and the US, seeking to derail EU trade talks with both after being dumped from a submarine contract .
France continues to react with fury to Australia's decision to cancel a multibillion-dollar submarine contract in favour of working with the US and UK.The latest sign was a series of reports that French President Emmanuel Macron is seeking to derail a planned EU-Australia trade deal to show its displeasure.