AIn the dispute over the failed submarine deal with France, australia has rejected the accusation of lying. Defense Secretary Peter Dutton told Sky News Australia on Sunday that the Australian government had expressed its concerns about the planned purchase to Paris “openly and honestly.” The project was years behind schedule and the budget was exceeded.
“The government had these concerns, we have raised them, and we want to work very closely with the French and we will continue to do so in the future,” he said.
The US, UK and Australia recently announced the creation of a new security alliance for the Indo-Pacific. As a result, Australia broke a multi-billion dollar submarine deal with France. Instead, Australia wants to purchase US nuclear submarines.
France reacted very angrily to the announcement and called its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra back for consultations on Friday in an extraordinary diplomatic move between allies. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused the USA and Australia on Saturday of “lying” and “duplicity” as well as a serious breach of trust and “disregard”. The future of NATO was burdened by the incident, he told the broadcaster France 2. The process had an impact on the definition of the new strategic concept of the defense alliance.
The new British Foreign Minister Liz Truss also defended her country’s security pact with the USA and Australia. “Freedoms must be defended, so we are building strong security relationships around the world,” wrote the conservative politician on Sunday in the Telegraph. After nuclear-powered submarines, this alliance also wants to expand the use of artificial intelligence for defense. Great Britain shows its commitment to security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
After Brexit, the British government wants to focus on close relationships with the Asian region, also in order to become more independent from Europe. Truss, who previously had to negotiate post-Brexit trade agreements as trade minister, had taken over the post of her predecessor Dominic Raab a few days ago as part of a cabinet reshuffle.
“We regret that you took this step”
On Friday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison denied that Australia had left France in the dark about its real intentions in the submarine deal. At a dinner in Paris in June, he made it very clear to French President Emmanuel Macron that Australia had changed its stance on the planned arms deal. At the time he pointed out that his country was facing a “new strategic environment” and therefore had significant concerns about the possibilities of conventional submarines, Morrison told an Australian radio station.
Washington regretted the French reaction. “We regret that you took this step,” said a White House representative on Saturday. “In the future, we will continue to work to ensure that our differences are overcome, as we did at other times in our long partnership.” -General Assembly in New York next week to discuss the matter with France. France is a very important and “our oldest partner”.
31 billion euro “contract of the century”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby admitted that phone calls between Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his French colleague Florence Parly showed “that there is still much to be done in our defense relationship with France.”
In view of China’s expansion efforts in the economically important Indo-Pacific region, Washington, London and Canberra announced their new alliance on Wednesday. Among other things, it provides for Australia to benefit from US technology in the construction of nuclear-powered submarines and from know-how in cyber defense. The US also wants to expand its military presence in Australia.
Shortly after the agreement was announced, Canberra canceled the planned multi-billion dollar submarine deal with France. The contract for the delivery of twelve diesel-powered French submarines had a volume of 31 billion euros when it was signed in 2016 – there was talk of a “contract of the century”. In Paris, after the contract was terminated, it was said that Australia’s trustworthiness was now questionable.
China has been pursuing an aggressive strategy in the Indo-Pacific for a long time, which has worried neighboring countries. It is about territorial claims in the South China Sea. Since 2018, the conflicts in trade relations between Beijing and Canberra have steadily intensified. China described the new Indo-Pacific Pact of the three western states as “extremely irresponsible”. This would undermine regional peace and stability. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that China has every right to make decisions in the national interest for its defense – “and that of course also applies to Australia and all other countries”.