Australia cancels French 80 billion submarine contract and goes with the US & UK instead - Politics | PoFo

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For reference, Australia ordered 12 nuclear subs from france, then asked france to remove the nuclear reactors and make them conventional - which delayed the order because France had to wrangle for diesel engines from germany signing its own deals there to acquire them. Now australia has gone behind Frances back, cut up the contract and signed for 8 nuclear subs from US anyway.

France has recalled its ambassadors from aus and US. I won't be surprised to see these French subs go to China or Russia or for france to pull out of Nato for some decades again. It will also seek financial damages for the torn up contract which could come with EU-wide sanctions. ... l-backlash

This is what's called shooting yourself in the foot, twice. Australia has gone through three prime minsters and three submarine contract cancellations in the last 10 years. It is indicative of zero independent strategic planning. Probably the most overt foreign controlled puppet regime in the western world. We have no independent foreign policy, this contract cancellation came directly from the white house.
Igor Antunov wrote:For reference, Australia ordered 12 nuclear subs from france, then asked france to remove the nuclear reactors and make them conventional - which delayed the order because France had to wrangle for diesel engines from germany signing its own deals there to acquire them. Now australia has gone behind Frances back, cut up the contract and signed for 8 nuclear subs from US anyway.

France has recalled its ambassadors from aus and US. I won't be surprised to see these French subs go to China or Russia or for france to pull out of Nato for some decades again. It will also seek financial damages for the torn up contract which could come with EU-wide sanctions. ... l-backlash

This is what's called shooting yourself in the foot, twice. Australia has gone through three prime minsters and three submarine contract cancellations in the last 10 years. It is indicative of zero independent strategic planning. Probably the most overt foreign controlled puppet regime in the western world. We have no independent foreign policy, this contract cancellation came directly from the white house.

It's weird. The Sub class entirely named after my family (yep! Grandad's brother) are still being used, despite already being outdated when they were first commissioned nearly 2.5 decades ago. Should I be proud or annoyed?

I would be pissed if I was Macron. I wouldn't do any deals with Australia ever again.

I wanted them to get the French diesel subs, Australia doesn't actually need nuclear subs.

Thanks Biden. Another Democrat president screwing us Aussies over.

I bet they won't even call them "Collins" this time.
France calls on EU allies to freeze Australia out of free-trade agreement
Clément Beaune, France's European affairs secretary, told POLITICO that Europe could hardly continue talks for a free-trade agreement after such a breach of trust. Brussels has held 11 rounds of talks with Canberra to date, and Australia originally hoped to conclude the accord before the end of the year.

"Keeping one's word is the condition of trust between democracies and between allies," he said. "So it is unthinkable to move forward on trade negotiations as if nothing had happened with a country in which we no longer trust."

Without France's backing, the European Commission will not be able to grant Australian farmers preferential market access for their beef and dairy products — the heart of the deal for Australia.

If there were any doubt that the accord is on the ropes, German MEP Bernd Lange, chair of the European Parliament's international trade committee, said the deal was in trouble, for reasons that stretched beyond France's opposition. "The willingness to compromise, on the European side, has now certainly decreased," Lange told POLITICO, arguing that Australia's recent U-turn also hit German interests.

"In addition to Australia's security policy orientation, the deal with the U.S. also sends industrial policy signals against the EU," said Lange, noting the new pact also affects the German company Atlas Elektronik, which is part of Thyssen Krupp Marine. ... ine-furor/

Well at least we have a free trade agreement with...China.
The Guardian wrote:France is seeking to enlist European Union support to delay a planned EU-Australia trade deal, as part of a plan to punish Australia for what it regards as serial deceit and subterfuge by Canberra before it cancelled the contract for 12 attack-class French submarines.

The A$90bn (£48bn) submarine contract was the centrepiece of French-Australian cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, but the Australians have instead opted to form a US-UK-Australia pact dubbed Aukus, and build eight nuclear-powered submarines likely to be delivered between 2030 and 2040.

The EU Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, weighed into the diplomatic row on Monday, saying France had been treated unacceptably by the US, Australia and the UK and that many questions remained unanswered. EU foreign ministers were due to discuss the crisis on the sidelines of the UN general assembly in New York.

The next round of EU-Australia trade talks – the 12th – are due next month, and it remains to be seen how deeply other EU states wish to become embroiled in the fallout from the French loss of a commercial contract.

The Australian trade minister, Dan Tehan, denied that the security row would spill into the planned free trade deal with Australia’s third largest trading partner. “It’s just very much business as usual when it comes to our negotiations on that free trade agreement,” he said. “Everything points to the fact that it’s in both the European Union and Australia’s interests that we continue that FTA.”

France has recalled its ambassadors to Washington and Canberra in an unprecedented protest and its armed forces minister, Florence Parly, currently in Mali, has postponed a planned meeting this week with the British defence secretary, Ben Wallace. A planned phone call between the US president, Joe Biden, and the French president, Emmanuel Macron, requested by Biden has not yet been put into diaries.

Macron, facing re-election next year, was remaining silent about the commercial and diplomatic humiliation inflicted on his country, which has effectively left the French strategy for the Indo-Pacific, based on cooperation with Australia and India, in tatters.

But lawyers acting for the French government and the state-backed Naval Group are already preparing a massive compensation claim that will turn on the flexibility and break clauses written into the contract first signed in 2016.

Other French options include selling nuclear-powered submarines to India, or persuading the US, Australia and the UK to let them join the Aukus security pact, and even play a role in building the submarines.

Boris Johnson insisted that the pact, due to extend beyond submarine manufacture to AI and robotics, was not intended to be exclusionary. “The UK and France have a very, very important, indestructible relationship, and of course we will be talking to all our friends about how to make the Aukus pact work so that it is not exclusionary, not divisive, and it really does not have to be that way,” he said.

He claimed the pact was just a sensible way to share certain technologies. “But that does not mean in any way mean that we wish to be adversarial to anyone else.”

Ben Wallace, speaking in the Commons, also sought to soothe the French, saying: “There is no absolutely no intent here by the UK government to slight upset or drive a wedge between us and France. There was no sneakiness behind the back. It was fundamentally Australia’s right to choose a different capability, and it did.”

But the French say no mention of the planned cancellation of the contract was made by the British when Wallace and the then foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, met their French counterparts in Paris to discuss their “separate responsibilities” in the Indo-Pacific.

The value of Johnson’s soothing words may be reduced in French eyes by Johnson choosing to celebrate the new pact with Australia by dining on Tuesday night at the Australian ambassador’s residence in Washington.

The French insist that despite direct inquiries from Australian ministers, they were never given any private warning that the contract was so close to being torn up. Australia say is was a matter of public record, including in Australian parliamentary hearings, that the government was considering a plan B due to inadequacies in the French-designed submarine, including range.

France believes that the US, especially Kurt Campbell, the White House coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, actively encouraged Australia to drop the French contract by making the unprecedented offer to share its nuclear-powered technology. The US feels vindicated by the support for the move among its allies in the region.

The pact, or at least the humiliation of France, has not been met with universal acclaim in the Conservative party. The Tory chair of the defence select committee, Tobias Ellwood, said the French had overreacted, but he added the “timing and manner of this announcement is not without diplomatic consequence and prompts further questions about the cohesion, purpose and leadership of Nato after a bruised departure from Afghanistan”.

He warned: “China’s authoritarian behaviour cannot be defeated solely by military means. We need all the tools and all the alliances working towards a common strategic goal.”
New York Times wrote:Secret Talks and a Hidden Agenda: Behind the U.S. Defense Deal That France Called a ‘Betrayal’

In meeting after meeting with their French counterparts, U.S. officials gave no heads-up about their plans to upend France’s largest defense contract.

The United States and Australia went to extraordinary lengths to keep Paris in the dark as they secretly negotiated a plan to build nuclear submarines, scuttling France’s largest defense contract and so enraging President Emmanuel Macron that on Friday he ordered the withdrawal of France’s ambassadors to both nations.

Mr. Macron’s decision was a stunning and unexpected escalation of the breach between Washington and Paris, on a day that the two countries had planned to celebrate an alliance that goes back to the defeat of Britain in the Revolutionary War.

Yet it was driven by France’s realization that two of its closest allies have been negotiating secretly for months. According to interviews with American and British officials, the Australians approached the new administration soon after President Biden’s inauguration and said they had concluded that they had to get out of a $60 billion agreement with France to supply them with a dozen attack submarines.

The conventionally powered French subs, the Australians feared, would be obsolete by the time they were delivered. They expressed interest in seeking a fleet of quieter nuclear-powered submarines based on American and British designs that could patrol areas of the South China Sea with less risk of detection.

But it was unclear how they would terminate the agreement with France, which was already over budget and running behind schedule.

“They told us they would take care of dealing with the French,” one senior U.S. official said.

The Australians knew they had a receptive audience. Mr. Biden, who has made pushing back hard on China’s territorial ambitions a central tenet of his national security policy, told aides those French-made submarines would not do. They did not have the ability to range the Pacific and show up unexpectedly off Chinese shores — adding an element of military advantage for the West.

The Australians, by all accounts, never made clear to the French that they were preparing to cancel the deal, which had taken years to negotiate. And in meeting after meeting with their French counterparts — some including Mr. Biden and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken — the Americans did not give France a heads-up about their plans to step in with their own designs, the officials said, asking for anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomacy. It was a classic case of diplomatic avoidance.

Mr. Biden’s top aides finally discussed the issue with the French hours before it was publicly announced at the White House in a virtual meeting with Mr. Biden, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia.

The result was a blowup that has now led to a vivid breach of trust with one of America’s oldest allies.

In the end, Mr. Biden’s decision was the result of a brutal calculus that nations sometimes make in which one ally is determined to be more strategically vital than another — something national leaders and diplomats never like to admit to in public. And it was a sign that as Mr. Biden begins to execute what the Obama administration, 12 years ago, called the “pivot to Asia,” there is the risk of stepping on political land mines as old, traditional allies in Europe feel left behind.

“As much as the pivot has been described as pivoting to Asia without pivoting away from someplace else, that is just not possible,” Richard Fontaine, the chief executive of the Center for a New American Security, who has long ties to both the Australian and American players in the deal, announced on Wednesday. “Military resources are finite. Doing more in one area means doing less in others.”

It also apparently means hiding negotiations from some of your closest allies.

By the time the Biden administration began engaging Australia and Britain seriously about its emerging strategy to counter China, a three-year-old contract worth $60 billion or more for a dozen submarines, to be constructed largely by the French, was already teetering, American officials said. The submarines were based on a propulsion technology that was so limited in range, and so easy for the Chinese to detect, that it would be obsolete by the time the first submarines were put in the water, perhaps as long as 15 years from now.

There was an obvious alternative: the kind of nuclear-powered submarines deployed by the Americans and the British. But American and Australian officials agreed that if the French caught wind of the fact that the plug was going to be pulled on one of the biggest defense contracts in their history, they almost certainly would try to sabotage the alternative plan, according to officials who were familiar with the discussions between Washington and Canberra.

So they decided to keep the work to a very small group of officials, and made no mention of it to the French, even when Mr. Biden and Mr. Blinken met their French counterparts in June.

Mr. Biden made no mention of the plans during a chummy chat with Mr. Macron at a summit meeting in June in Cornwall, where they sat in lawn chairs by the sea and talked about the future of the Atlantic alliance. (Mr. Biden, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Morrison met together the same day, discussed the emerging deal, and in a vague statement which seems more revealing today than it did then, referred to “deepening strategic cooperation between the three governments” to meet a changing defense environment in the Indo-Pacific.) Three days later, Mr. Morrison met separately with Mr. Macron, but left no impression he was rethinking the deal, the French insist.

According to French officials, Mr. Blinken also stayed silent on June 25 when his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, welcomed him back to Paris — where Mr. Blinken spent his high school years — and extolled the importance of the French submarine deal.

And as recently as Aug. 30, when the French and Australian defense and foreign ministers held their annual “consultation,” they issued a joint communiqué that said the two countries were committed to deepening cooperation in the defense industry and “underlined the importance of the Future Submarine program.”

By that time, the Australians not only knew the program was dead, they had nearly sealed the agreement in principle with Washington and London.

The French ambassador to the United States, Philippe Étienne, said in several interviews that he first heard of the deal in leaked news reports appearing in the Australian media and in Politico. Other French officials said they had been suspicious that something was up a week ago, but did not get an immediate response from Mr. Blinken or Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III. The first American official to discuss the details with Ambassador Étienne was Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, a few hours before the public announcement on Wednesday.

American officials insist it was not their place to talk to the French about their business deal with Australia. But now, in light of the blowup, some officials say they regret they did not insist that the Australians level with the French about their intentions earlier.

The Chinese government also did not get a heads-up, no surprise since the official American position is that the submarine deal is not aimed at any particular nation. But China’s first response to the new alliance, awkwardly named AUKUS (for Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States), was that it was “extremely irresponsible” and would start an arms race. In fact, the Pentagon’s most recent China report says the Chinese Navy has built a dozen nuclear subs, some of which can carry nuclear weapons. Australia has vowed never to deploy nuclear weapons.

Even before Mr. Macron recalled the ambassadors, Mr. Biden’s aides seemed taken aback by the ferocity of the French response, especially Mr. Le Drian’s characterization that it was a “knife in the back.” They have suggested the French were being overly dramatic and believe the two countries will gradually return to normal relations. History suggests they may be right: A huge breach prompted by the British and French invasion of the Suez Canal in 1956 was eventually papered over, as was the “Nixon Shock” with the Japanese in 1971, when the United States gave no notice about its decision to come off the gold standard.

In this case, American officials said the decision to toss over the existing French-Australian contract, and replace it with one that would bind Australia technologically and strategically to the nuclear submarine program, generated virtually no internal debate, participants said. The reason was straightforward: In the Biden White House, the imperative to challenge China’s growing footprint, and its efforts to push the U.S. Navy east, to the next island chain in the Pacific, reigns supreme.

“It says a lot about how Washington discerns its interests in the Pacific,” said Mr. Fontaine, “that there was no hand-wringing about angering the French.”

Yet for years, American officials have known that the turn toward Asia could strain relations with European allies. While former President Barack Obama initially embraced the phrase “the pivot” to describe the American move to the region of the world where its economic and strategic interests are greatest — as a basketball player, he latched on to the sports metaphor — his White House eventually banned the public use of the phrase because of European objections.

That did not stop Kurt M. Campbell, a major architect of the strategy, from publishing a 2016 book about it called “The Pivot: The Future of American Statecraft in Asia,” which was advertised as an account of “a necessary course correction for American diplomacy, commercial engagement and military innovations.”

Mr. Campbell is now the Asia coordinator at the National Security Council, and when the Australians decided they were ready to dump the French deal, he was among the first they contacted.
The Guardian wrote:‘Someone lied’: French foreign minister accuses Australia of submarine betrayal in latest broadside
Jean-Yves Le Drian says Australia reassured France everything was fine right up to the day the Aukus pact was announced.

France has accused Australia of lying shortly before Canberra cancelled a major submarine contract, with the French foreign minister declaring “someone lied”.

With no sign of any imminent easing of tensions between the two countries, Jean-Yves Le Drian told a parliamentary hearing that Australia had never expressed doubts about the €56bn (A$90bn) submarine contract or the strategic Indo-Pacific pact before breaking the contract.

“Everything I have told you is confirmed by the letter I received on 15 September from the Australian ministry of defence that said everything is OK let’s continue,” Le Drian said.

The French foreign minister said this suggested “someone lied”. He added: “Something doesn’t add up and we don’t know what.”

Le Drian reiterated that French contractor Naval Group had received a letter on the same day the contract was broken saying Australia was “satisfied” with the strategic review of the submarines and was ready for the “rapid signature for the second phase of the programme”.

As a result, the decision to break the multibillion submarine contract was met with “stupor” in France, he said.

The letter in question has not been publicly released. The Guardian has contacted the Australian government for comment, but it has previously played down the letter’s significance.

Last week a spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Defence told the Guardian: “On 15 September 2021, Naval Group was advised that the formal exit of a system review had been achieved as required under the contractual arrangements in place at the time.”

The spokesperson added: “This correspondence did not refer to or authorise commencement of the next phase of the program, which remained subject to the announcement of decisions by the Australian government.”

The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, has repeatedly defended the fallout from his joining with the UK and the US for a new defence cooperation arrangement to deliver nuclear-propelled submarines.

Morrison maintains he acted in Australia’s national security interests at a time of a worsening strategic outlook in the Indo-Pacific, while acknowledging France’s “disappointment”.

But Le Drian said right up to the day of what he described as a “betrayal”, France was being reassured by Australia that everything was fine.

He repeated that what was at stake was far more than a commercial contract, and involved the broader strategic relationship between the two countries.

Le Drian said Australia had “asked for conventional submarines” as opposed to nuclear-powered vessels. That is a reference to specifications set by the Australia government when it launched a competitive evaluation process for the future submarine project in 2015.

“These are the facts and they speak for themselves,” Le Drian told a Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces Committee of the upper house, the Sénat. He added that the Australian decision to throw over a partnership with France for a pact with the US meant it had given up its defence sovereignty.

Le Drian repeated several times that the Aukus deal represented a “total loss of sovereignty” for Australia.

“It is not just the breaking of a contract, it is a betrayal and a breaking of trust,” he said.

“The effect is that Australia has abandoned its sovereignty and made a leap into the unknown with the choice of technology it doesn’t control and won’t control in the future. This puts it at the mercy of US politics.”

Le Drian said France still did not know what role the UK would play in the project.

“The ball is in the British camp. If they want to go forward confidence needs to be rebuilt.”

Le Drian said France was “waiting for strong actions and not just words”. He said the French ambassador would return to Australia “when we have had a review”. The ambassador to France is returning to the US this week. Both were recalled for consultations in France “to show the gravity of this treason and breach of trust”.

He said the US’s strategy in the Indo-Pacific was based on “confrontation, even military confrontation”, and said France wanted to work with “other actors in the Indo-Pacific” to combat Chinese expansion in the region.

The minister said France had the support of the EU27. “They perfectly understood this crisis and this was not just friendly support with France … they realise that what is at stake. This is a strategic European crisis.”

Earlier, an Élysée official said any future talks between Emmanuel Macron and Morrison over the fallout from Canberra’s decision to tear up the submarine deal would have to be “seriously prepared” and have “substance”.

The Australian trade minister, Dan Tehan, has also struggled to secure a meeting with his French counterpart during a forthcoming trip to Paris, where he will also attend OECD and World Trade Organization-related meetings. Tehan said on Saturday that “remains an open invitation”.
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