International relationships have hit rough waters following Australia’s decision to withdraw from its conventional submarine contract with France, leaving the country feeling betrayed as Australia inks a new nuclear deal with the US and UK in its place.
French President Emmanuel Macron has hit back, making his disapproval of the contract apparent by recalling French ambassadors from Canberra and Washington - though notably not the UK - as the breaking of the deal is labelled “a major breach of trust” by a French government spokesman, Gabriel Attal.
“We want explanations,” Attal demands, clearly unimpressed by Australia’s decision to leave the deal.
Aussie-US-UK contract seals submarine innovation for the future safety of international waters
Supposedly, in the coming days, US President Joe Biden and Macron are due to discuss diplomatic relations over the phone, both eager to resolve an issue that has been blown out of the water.
“President Biden asked to speak to the President of the Republic and there will be a telephone discussion in the next few days between President Macron and President Biden,” Attal said to BFM TV.
According to Attal, the French are seeking compensation over the breach of contract clauses, something which Australia is keen to avoid. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is adamant that his country’s ministers revealed concerns over the French submarine deal, despite France throwing around allegations of supposed ‘betrayal’.
“I think they would have had every reason to know that we had deep and grave concerns that the capability being delivered by the Attack Class submarine was not going to meet our strategic interests and we made very clear that we would be making a decision based on our strategic national interest,” Morrison claimed.
Three-way pact aims to decrease Chinese prominence and counteract its rising power
But the new three-way security pact inked between Australia, the US and the UK furthered the divide between France and the three nations, eliciting some less-than-diplomatic language from French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian.
“There has been lying, duplicity, a major breach of trust and contempt. This will not do.”
Le Drian also hammered home the UK’s ‘third-wheel’ status in the deal, providing context as to why the French ambassador to the UK has not been withdrawn.
“We recalled our ambassadors to re-evaluate the situation,” he said. “With Britain, there is no need. We know their constant opportunism, So there is no need to bring our ambassador back to explain.
“Britain in this whole thing is a bit like the third wheel.”
The new Aussie-US-UK defence alliance is aiming to counteract the rising prominence and power of China, according to Biden. The contract sees US nuclear submarine technology, cyber-defence, AI, and undersea capabilities being shared with Australia with the three nations combining research and resources to strengthen water defences.