On Thursday, Australia announced its formal withdrawal from a submarine deal with France, and the launch of a security partnership with the United States and Britain.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that his country will not go ahead with the submarine deal with France, and instead will launch a security partnership, with the United States and Britain, noting that his country will obtain nuclear-powered submarines within the framework of this partnership.
The move came after the leaders of the United States, Britain and Australia announced, on Wednesday, the establishment of a security partnership between the three countries in the Indo-Pacific region, including helping Australia obtain nuclear-powered submarines, in light of the growing Chinese influence in the region.
The new security treaty was called “Aukus”, which was announced during a virtual summit hosted by US President Joe Biden at the White House, in which British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Scott Morrison participated via video.
This announcement represents a strategic turning point, especially as it is the first time that the United States will share such a sensitive technology with a country other than Britain.
“The only country with which the United States has shared this type of nuclear propulsion technology is Britain” since 1958, a senior White House official said.
It is noteworthy that Australia signed the submarine agreement with France in 2016, which provided for the construction of 12 conventionally powered submarines, and the total cost of the program, for which the French Naval Group was responsible, is 50 billion Australian dollars.
In response, the French Foreign Ministry considered, today, Thursday, Australia’s withdrawal from the submarine deal “a regrettable decision.”
She added: “Australia retracted that deal in order to get in the framework of a partnership concluded recently with the United States and Britain on nuclear-powered submarines.”
And the French Foreign Ministry continued: “This decision contradicts the letter and spirit of cooperation that prevailed between France and Australia and the American option, which leads to the exclusion of a European ally and partner such as France from a chronic partnership with Australia at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region. France can only watch him and regret him.”
And French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian commented again on Australia’s decision, saying that his country feels betrayed by Australia’s sudden decision, adding, “It reminds us of Trump.”
Le Drian considered that Australia’s termination of the contract to purchase submarines from Paris was a “stab in the back”.
“We need a clear explanation from Australia about its retreat from the nuclear submarine deal,” the French foreign minister said.
In turn, the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, confirmed that Australia’s retreat from the contract to purchase submarines from France is a “dangerous” matter.
As for China, the Beijing Embassy in the United States of America commented on the military partnership agreement between America, Britain and Australia, saying that the three countries should abandon the “Cold War mentality.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison extended an open invitation to dialogue to Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday.
“We extend an invitation to the Chinese president to hold open talks,” Morrison said in a statement carried by AFP.
After that, the Chinese Foreign Ministry commented on the military partnership agreement, saying that it threatens regional peace and stability, noting that it harms the international non-proliferation regime.
According to “Reuters” news agency, the Chinese Foreign Ministry stressed that regional agreements should not harm the interest of any third party.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that a decades-old ban on the entry of any nuclear-powered naval vessel into her country’s waters will apply to submarines that Australia intends to acquire.