France expressed outrage Thursday after being left out of the new nuclear-powered submarine technology partnership between the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom, calling the decision “regrettable.”
According to Fox News, French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-yves Le Drian and Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly said in a statement that the partnership excluding France “is contrary to the letter and spirit of the cooperation that prevailed between France and Australia, based on a relationship of political trust as well as on the development of a very high-level defence industrial technology base in Australia.”
“The American choice to exclude a European ally and partner such as France from a structuring partnership with Australia, at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, whether in terms of our values or in terms of respect for multilateralism based on the rule of law, shows a lack of coherence that France can only note and regret,” the statement continued.
The joint statement went on to say that the “regrettable decision that has just been announced regarding the FSP program only reinforces the need to make the issue of European strategic autonomy loud and clear,” adding that “there is no other credible way to defend our interests and our values in the world, including in the Indo-Pacific.”
France also noted that it is the “only European nation present in the Indo-Pacific with nearly two million citizens and more than 7,000 military personnel.”
President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the partnership, dubbed “AUKUS” early Wednesday.
“As the first initiative under AUKUS, recognizing our common tradition as maritime democracies, we commit to a shared ambition to support Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy,” the White House said. “Today, we embark on a trilateral effort of 18 months to seek an optimal pathway to deliver this capability. We will leverage expertise from the United States and the United Kingdom, building on the two countries’ submarine programs to bring an Australian capability into service at the earliest achievable date.”
During the announcement, President Biden acknowledged France’s “substantial Indo-Pacific presence” and called the excluded nation a “key partner and ally in strengthening the security and prosperity of the region.”
“The United States looks forward to working closely with France and other key countries as we go forward,” Biden added.
China also attacked the new agreement, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian saying the partnership “has seriously undermined regional peace and stability, intensified the arms race and undermined international non-proliferation efforts” and “proves once again that they are using nuclear exports as a tool for geopolitical game and adopting double standards.”