French ambassador to the US says they ‘absolutely weren’t informed’ of submarine deal

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Speaking on French radio station RTL, Ambassador Philippe tienne said there had been no indication to French cabinet ministers that they would meet with their Australian counterparts a few days before Canberra announced an alternative agreement with the US and the United Kingdom. After that the agreement will be cancelled.

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“We weren’t informed about the new course at all,” Etienne said.

Paris reacted with fury when Australia abandoned its $90 billion Australian dollar ($65 billion) submarine deal with France in favor of a new military deal with the US and Britain.

As part of the agreement, known as Aukas, Australia will be supplied with technology to build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, which are considered superior to the conventionally powered ships Canberra has previously Had agreed to buy from Paris. In response to the loss of its submarine contract, France on Friday recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia, in a dramatic display of discontent.

Etienne said his departure from Washington was “already a response” by the French government, and one that “marks the seriousness of our response.” He said senior members of the Macron administration were still discussing what to do next.

“As soon as we found out (about the new deal) on Wednesday morning, I demanded to be seen, I was seen,” by the White House, Etienne said. “(But) it was a little late.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday defended his decision to scrap the deal with Paris, saying Australia had “deep and serious concerns” about the submarines being built by France.
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Analysts say nuclear-powered submarines can carry more firepower off Australian shores for longer periods than a conventionally powered submarine. That means they could be effective in areas such as the South China Sea, where Australia is helping partners including the US against Chinese territorial claims, and in the north in areas around Taiwan and Japan.

Drew Thompson, a former US Department of Defense official and senior research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School, said, “A nuclear strike sub is like no other vessel that can be used across the region, particularly in Northeast Asia where Australia has interests. , gives the ability to project electricity.” of public policy at the National University of Singapore, said on Twitter.

Morrison said that while he understood France’s dismay, “Australia’s national interest comes first.”

“It should come first and come first, and serve Australia’s interests the best is the tripartite partnership that I have been able to build with President (Joe) Biden and Prime Minister (Boris) Johnson,” he told a news conference on Sunday. ” .

North Korea warns of ‘nuclear arms race’

As countries in Asia digest the AUKUS deal and consider what it would mean for regional security, North Korea has warned that deploying nuclear-powered submarines in Australia could trigger a “nuclear arms race”. can.

North Korea’s foreign ministry denounced the US agreement with Australia in a fiery statement on Monday, describing the treaty as an “extremely undesirable and dangerous act”, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The head of the foreign news section of the media department of the North Korean foreign ministry warned that the deal would “upset the strategic balance in the Asia-Pacific region,” the KCNA report said.

The ministry told KCNA that Pyongyang is “watching closely the background of the recent US decision,” and will take “similar retaliation” if the country’s security has even the slightest adverse effect.

The North Korean government has repeatedly ignored international warnings to end its own nuclear weapons program, including a recent decision by Pyongyang to restart a nuclear reactor used to make plutonium.

In comparison, Australia’s new submarines will only be nuclear-powered – they will not be nuclear-armed.

Nonetheless, the head of North Korea’s foreign news section condemned the US for its “double-handedness”, saying that even “a US ally called the US move a ‘brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision’. ‘ and said ‘stab in the back.'”

“It is quite natural that neighboring countries, including China, described these actions as irresponsible. [capable] To destroy the peace and stability of the region and to catalyze the international nuclear non-proliferation system and arms race,” KCNA said.

Granthshala’s Gawon Bay in Seoul contributed to this report.


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