France recalls ambassadors from US, Australia over new AUKUS security pact
The AUKUS military agreement scraps Australia's $40 billion French submarine contract in favour of building nuclear-powered submarines with the support of UK and the US.
France announced on September 17, 2021 that it is recalling its ambassadors from the United States and Australia over the recent trilateral security pact between US, UK and Australia that involves the building of nuclear-powered submarines.
The AUKUS military agreement was signed to counter the military threats in the Indo-Pacific region and it involves the delivery of a nuclear-powered submarine fleet to Australia. The submarines will be built in Australia with the support from UK and the US.
The deal, however, scraps the $40 billion French submarine contract in favour of the US nuclear submarines. France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called the decision a “stab in the back". The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson also said that the AUKUS deal “seriously damages regional peace and stability” and “intensifies the arms race.”
Cancellation of Attack class submarine programme directs affect vision we have of our alliances: French Foreign Minister
France has recalled its ambassadors to both Australia and the United States, citing "unacceptable behavior" on the part of the allied nations. France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a written statement that, "the French decision to recall its ambassadors — at the request of President Emmanuel Macron — is justified by the exceptional seriousness of the announcements” made by Australia and the United States on September 15th.
The announcement refers to the joint statement made by the US, UK and Australia regarding their new trilateral defence pact named AUKUS, which will enable sharing of advanced technologies, expertise in artificial intelligence, cyber underwater systems and long-range capabilities between the three nations.
The leaders shared that the new security partnership will mainly focus on deepening diplomatic, security & defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. However, the new trilateral security program that focuses on delivering nuclear-powered submarines to the Australian Navy effectively cancels a previous $40 billion submarine deal that was signed between France and Australia.
The French Foreign Minister stated, "The cancellation of the Attack class submarine program binding Australia and France since 2016, and the announcement of a new partnership with the United States meant to launch studies on a possible future cooperation on nuclear-powered submarines, constitute unacceptable behavior between allies and partners, whose consequences directly affect the vision we have of our alliances, of our partnerships and of the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe."
Le Drian further said, "Allies “don’t treat each other with such brutality, such unpredictability, a major partner like France ... So there really is a crisis." He added saying there are reasons for them to question the strength of their alliance.
France’s ambassador to Australia, Jean-Pierre Thebault also said in a statement before flying home, “This has been a huge mistake, a very, very bad handling of the partnership." He reportedly found out about the deal getting canceled through Australian media.
I am being recalled to Paris for consultations. This follows announcements directly affecting the vision we have of our alliances, of our partnerships and of the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe. https://t.co/ue2V1NUTpN— Philippe Etienne (@Ph_Etienne) September 17, 2021
France-Australia 2016 Arms Deal
France and Australia had reportedly signed an arms agreement in 2016, which was being billed in France as the “contract of the century.” Australia had announced in 2016 that France's DCNS company had outbid companies from Germany and Japan to build the next generation of submarines. This was reported to be Australia’s largest-ever defense contract.