CAMBERRA, ($1=1.37 Australian dollars) – Australian Defense Secretary Peter Dutton said that even before the agreement to build nuclear submarines in Australia, in cooperation with the United States and Great Britain, Canberra had informed Paris about its concerns about the French submarine deal, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.
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“The suggestion that the Australian government has not raised these concerns is simply challenging, frankly, what is in the public domain, and certainly does not reflect what it has publicly talked about over a long time,” Dutton in an interview with Sky News.
He said on Sunday that Australia has for several years expressed concerns to France about the 2016 order, which is estimated to be much more expensive today.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday that he had expressed “very serious concern” about the deal to French President Emmanuel Macron back in June and made it clear that Australia “will need to decide on our national interest.” Australian Treasury Secretary Simon Birmingham said Australia had informed France in advance of the deal but admitted on Sunday that negotiations with the US and Britain were secret, given the “tremendous delicacy.”
Dutton and Birmingham declined to disclose the cost of the new agreement, although Dutton said: “it will not be a cheap project.”
It was reported that French President Emmanuel Macron was not notified of the preparation of the partnership agreement, its details were agreed by the three parties at the June G7 summit in Cornwall in the south of England from 11 to 13 June. In the British government, the documents related to the deal were marked “top secret”, their discussions took place in specially protected rooms.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian denied reports that preliminary consultations had been held with France before announcing the agreement, saying it was “not true”. Following the announcement of the agreement, Paris recalled its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra. In an interview with France 2, Le Drian said the move was “a testament to the strength of today’s crisis” between the French government and Washington and Canberra.
France is outraged by Australia’s decision
The announcement by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison of the decision to build nuclear submarines [nuclear submarines] within the new AUCUS alliance has caused outrage in the French government.
“This decision contradicts the letter and spirit of co-operation that existed between France and Australia,” said a joint statement by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Florence Parley’s armed forces.
Australia’s decision to build nuclear submarines in cooperation with the United States and Britain, instead of buying them from a French company, “is unfortunate,” the French foreign ministry said.
The statement said: “The US choice, which removes an ally and European partner like France from a long-standing partnership with Australia as we face unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region … marks a lack of consistency that France cannot nor did he mention what he might regret.”
Why was the contract with France terminated?
The Royal Australian Navy is armed with six Collins-class submarines. They were manufactured 30 years ago by the Swedish company Kockums, which is now part of the large Saab group. The life cycle of this type of submarine, according to the Australian Ministry, should reach its end sometime in 2030-2031. That’s why Australia ordered brand new Attaka-class submarines from the French Naval Group, which are based on modern technology and construction of French Barracuda class submarines.
Long before 2030, the French were to deliver the first submarine to the Royal Australian Navy. However, it turns out that this will not happen and the optimal delivery time for the first submarine has been changed to 2035. This puts the “kangaroo” in an awkward position and would significantly weaken the navy’s combat capabilities.
The Australian government is thus forced to seek a solution through its existing six Collins-class submarines. Canberra has already voted a budget of nearly $ 4.6 billion for their renovation. It was supposed to happen anyway, but if the French plans coincided with the pre-guaranteed ones, Australia would only upgrade three Collins-class submarines. Now the costs are doubling.
“We need to be realistic about what lies ahead by way of threat in our region, and the submarine capacity is a significant part of how we mitigate that risk and it’s important we get the program right,” Australia’s Minister of Defense Peter Dutton said. “There is no doubt in my mind that we need to pursue a life-of-type extension [for the Collins class].”
But the bad news for Australia doesn’t end there. The program that finances the project for the new fleet of submarines turns out that instead of the planned $ 40 billion, it will have to pay $ 69 billion. The discrepancy in the initial price given by the French and these 69 billion is large, which forced Australia to talk hard about ending the project. This is why relations between Canberra and Paris are strained, unclear, and questionable.
The new Australian subs
The biggest contract in the history of the Australian fleet has failed and the most affected by this development are France and the French company Naval Group, learned BulgarianMilitary.com. Australia had to pay nearly $ 66 billion for the construction of 12 Shortfin Barracuda Block A1 conventionnel submarines. In 2017, the two countries [Australia and France] agreed on this deal and the new Australian nuclear submarines were expected to surpass all available in the region.
However, the United States and the United Kingdom intervened and, together with Australia, created the AUCUS project, which is expected to be supported within days. AUCUS is a tripartite agreement between the United States, Britain, and Australia with the main goal of counteracting the Chinese threat in the Indo-Pacific region.
The creation of nuclear submarines for the Australian navy will be the first initiative within the new AUKUS alliance, said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
The AUGUS alliance
BulgarianMilitary.com recalls you that the US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Ministers Scott Morrison, and British Prime Ministers Boris Johnson have announced a new trilateral security partnership, AUKUS, BBC News reported.
“While the Australia-UK-US partnership – AUKUS – sounds odd with all these acronyms, it’s good. (…) Our countries will renew and strengthen our common ability to confront threats of the 21st century just as we did in the 20th century: together,” Biden said during a joint presentation of the new alliance.
“This initiative aims to ensure that each of us has (…) the most advanced capabilities we need to maneuver and defend against rapidly evolving threats,” he said.
In turn, the Australian Prime Minister noted that “the world is becoming more complex”, especially in the Indo-Pacific region. To help ensure the security and stability that our region needs, we must now take our partnership to a new level, he said.
“AUKUS is a partnership in which our technology, our scientists, our industry, our defense forces work together to create a safer region that ultimately benefits everyone,” said Morrison.
According to the leaders, AUKUS will help protect the interests of the three countries in the Indo-Pacific region and will allow Australia to build nuclear submarines for the first time.
New Zealand banned already Australian subs
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has first commented on a deal between Australia, Britain, and the United States to build new nuclear submarines for the Royal Australian Navy. “New Zealand’s position on banning nuclear-powered ships in our waters remains unchanged,” she told Newshub.
BulgarianMilitary.com reminds you that back in 1987, New Zealand made a fundamental decision on the nuclear-free status of the territory and territorial waters of New Zealanders. Today, Jacinda Ardern reminded her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, who informed her of Australia’s intentions to build nuclear submarines that it would abide by the decision made in the last century.
However, Jacinda Ardern welcomes her neighbors’ decision to build new nuclear submarines and ensure security in the region. According to her, the common goal of both New Zealand and Australia is to ensure security and peace in the Indo-Pacific region, of which New Zealand is a part. “New Zealand is primarily a country in the Pacific, and we look at foreign policy developments through the prism of what is in the region’s interest,” Ardern said.
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