'Stab in the Back': Ex-French Official Blasts New Trilateral Defence Deal Between US, UK & Australia
Under the accord, Australia is to receive its first fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. According to official data, the vessels won't be equipped with nuclear weapons and will simply be powered by nuclear reactors. Following the announcement of a new defence pact, Canberra terminated a deal with the French defence contractor, Naval Group, for the supply of 12 conventional attack-class submarines.
Reports say the deal worth $90 billionm(AUD) included cost blowouts as well as Canberra's demands that components for the submarines be sourced locally. The first submarines were expected to become operational no earlier than the 2030s or even the early 2040s.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the delivery of nuclear-powered submarines under the trilateral pact with Britain and the US will allow Canberra to meet its mission to protect its "national interest, and that of our regional friends".
Current French officials too voiced regret over the surprise announcement.
"It is a decision contrary to the letter and the spirit of cooperation which prevailed between France and Australia. The American choice which leads to the removal of an ally and a European partner such as France from a structuring partnership with Australia when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region … marks an absence of coherence that France can only observe and regret", said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.