Australia needs a nuclear submarine for “regional superiority” says defense minister; France recalls its ambassadors to the United States and Australia

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The USS Vermont (SSN-792) crosses the Thames during routine operations October 15, 2020. U.S. Navy photo

The Australian Defense Minister said his country had entered into a new trilateral agreement with the United States and the United Kingdom because “we needed a nuclear powered submarine for regional superiority”, adding further deployments of US forces, “planes of all types” and providing logistics services and sustainment facilities for US Navy ships can be expected in the future.

Peter Dutton, speaking at a joint State Department press conference on Thursday, said Australia “sees increased uncertainty in the Indo-Pacific”, comparing it to the tensions that built up before the Second World War.

He added that all of these measures, along with increased military exercises with the United States and other allies in the region, are part of Australia’s goal “to ensure that peace prevails” in the Indo-Pacific.

When asked if Canberra and Washington’s space cooperation and sharing advances in artificial intelligence and cybercrime mean Australia would also accept intermediate-range missiles, Dutton said: “I have an aspiration. “

Dutton did not respond directly to a question about the porting of US Navy ships to Australia and the extent of the expected rotation of land and air forces.

Friday, Foreign police reported rotating deployments of US fighter and bombers from the Royal Australian Air Force Base at Tindal in the Northern Territory. The U.S. Marines have had a small rotational deployment to Darwin since 2014.

During the press conference, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said, “We certainly didn’t go into this with a quid-pro-quo expectation.” He called the Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) deal “exciting because it will provide new capabilities and capabilities.”

In announcing the alliance, President Joseph Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison stressed that submarines would not carry nuclear weapons. The announcement also coincided with the 70th anniversary of the ANZUS alliance between Australia, New Zealand and the United States and the 20th anniversary of this alliance invoking its mutual defense clause following the terrorist attacks on the United States. United States.

U.S. Marines with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment load buses at Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa, Japan, May 15, 2020. The battalion arrived from California and was tested for symptoms of COVID-19. They will join the Marine Rotational Force – Darwin on an upcoming deployment to the Northern Territory of Australia. United States Marine Corps Photo

According to the semi-official Chinese newspaper Global Times: “Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the AUKUS agreement providing Australia with nuclear submarines” seriously undermines the peace and regional stability, intensifies the arms race and undermines the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. ‘”

In the same story, an anonymous Chinese military expert said, “Beijing and Moscow will not treat Canberra as’ an innocent non-nuclear power ‘, but as’ an ally of the United States who could be armed with nuclear weapons at any time. “.

A newspaper editorial called Australia a “running dog” for Washington versus China.

Dutton rejected Beijing’s portrayal of Canberra as an adversary and a possible nuclear target. “This isn’t the first time we’ve seen… explosions from China.”

“We are open to dialogue,” said Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne. “Dialogue is actually useful. She added, “Mature actors would take that [offer of meeting] constructively.

For several years, the two countries have been engaged in a bitter trade war with China imposing high tariffs on Australian beef and wine and other products to further align it with Beijing policies. As a result, Canberra began to spend more to modernize its forces and to speak with the French specifically about the future submarine program. In 2016, the two countries signed a $ 66 billion contract involving future conventionally-powered submarines and other high-tech companies and sharing.

French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described the decision as “contrary to the letter and the spirit of the cooperation which prevailed between France and Australia” in a press release on submarines as part of the new alliance. . In a radio interview, LeDrian called him a “knife in the back.” He added that the “unilateral, brutal, unpredictable” decision made one think of President Donald Trump’s treatment of his allies.

The official statement added, “The American choice which leads to the withdrawal of an ally and a European partner like France from a structuring partnership with Australia, at a time when we are faced with unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region… marks a absence of coherence that France can only observe and regret.

France also called off a series of events with the United States marking the 240th Battle of the Caps of the American Revolution and ordered Admiral Pierre Vandier, Chief of the Naval Staff, to return to France from then on. Baltimore. He was also due to speak on Tuesday on the future of the French navy in a Washington think tank.

During the press conference, Secretary of State Antony Blinken tried to play down any difference with France on the deal, saying “we welcome European countries playing an important role in the Indo-Pacific”, and specifically mentioning the importance of Paris’ contribution to the region. . He added in response to a question “we want to find all opportunities to cooperate more deeply” with France and other European nations in the Indo-Pacific.

France recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia on Friday.

“The cancellation of the Attack-class submarine program linking Australia and France since 2016, and the announcement of a new partnership with the United States to launch studies on possible future cooperation on sub -nuclear-powered navies constitute unacceptable behavior between allies and partners. , the consequences of which directly affect the vision we have of our alliances, our partnerships and the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe ”, declared Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, in a press release.

The new deal will likely be on the agenda for the summit meeting with Biden and the leaders of Australia, Japan and India next week at the White House, along with the COVID-19 pandemic and economic and trade issues. The group is informally known as “Quad”.


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