“The abandonment of the attack-class submarine agreement that has linked Australia and France since 2016, and the announcement of a new partnership with the United States aimed at launching studies on future cooperation on nuclear-powered submarines, constitutes unacceptable behavior between allies and partners, the consequences of which affect our very conception of our alliances, our partnerships and the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe,” Le Drian said.
This week, Australia, the UK and the US concluded a defense alliance (AUKUS) that involves assistance from Washington and London in Australia’s efforts to acquire nuclear-propelled submarines. The pact entailed Canberra’s withdrawal from a $66 billion contract with France to construct 12 submarines.
France summoned its ambassadors in the US and Australia on Friday for consultations, after Washington, London and Canberra struck a new security agreement (AUKUS), according to a statement from France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Paris said that the move was taken after comments by the US and Australia the day AUKUS was announced.
An official from the White House told Reuters that Washington regrets Paris’ recent decision and noted that the administration would be engaged with the French side to resolve the disagreements in the coming days.
Earlier, he called the cancellation of the Australian-French submarine contract a “knife in the back” and a “unilateral, brutal, unpredictable” action, more appropriate for former US President Donald Trump.
The new partnership forced Canberra to withdraw from a submarine agreement with the French shipbuilding company Naval Group, that was ready to construct conventionally-powered submarines.