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Australia acquires American nuclear submarines

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Announced Wednesday, a new trilateral security pact in the Indo-Pacific zone between Washington, London and Canberra should allow Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines. He questions an order for twelve submarines placed by Canberra to France.

The United States, Australia and the United Kingdom launch, Wednesday, September 15, a “historic” partnership of security and defense in the Indo-Pacific zone.

“The first major initiative of (this new pact called) ‘AUKUS’ will be to deliver a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia”, better suited to evolving threats in the Pacific, said the Prime Minister Australian Scott Morrison, appearing on video conference with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and with President Joe Biden at the White House.

He clarified that his country does not wish to acquire nuclear weapons.

The new partnership will be based on information sharing and increased technological and industrial integration in defense.

“The UK, Australia and the US are going to be linked even more closely, which reflects the level of trust between us and the depth of our friendship,” said Boris Johnson, who is enjoying diplomatic success here. in its strategy to avoid international isolation after Brexit.

The alliance with France undermined

This is a 180-degree turnaround for Australia, which two years ago ordered from the French Naval Group twelve classically propelled Barracuda-class submarines, after a close competition. with the German TKMS (ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems) and the Japanese Mitsubishi / Kawasaki consortium.

According to the Australian press, Australia should cancel the gigantic order of conventional submarines from France, weighing 50 billion Australian dollars (constant, 31 billion euros), nicknamed the “contract of the century” when it was signed in 2019.

Shortly after the announcement of this trilateral pact, Naval Group unsurprisingly expressed its “great disappointment”. “The Commonwealth of Australia did not wish to initiate the next phase of the program, which is a great disappointment for Naval Group which offered Australia a conventional submarine of regional superiority with exceptional performance,” said the group in a statement sent to AFP.

This reaction should be shared by Emmanuel Macron who reaffirmed in mid-June France’s “full commitment” to go to the end of the contract.

Canberra’s about-face could indeed inflict a major setback on the strategy put in place by the French president for the Indo-Pacific zone, based on close partnerships with India and Australia.

To prevent potential tensions caused by this alliance, Joe Biden has promised to “work closely with France” in the Indo-Pacific region. “It is a key partner and ally,” said the US president.

Biden in search of alliances

China was not mentioned either in the oral statements or in the press release which referred to “peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region”, but there is no doubt that the new alliance is aimed primarily at dealing with Beijing’s regional ambitions.

Joe Biden has been repeating since his election that he intends to confront China, like his predecessor Donald Trump, but in a very different way, without locking himself in a face-to-face meeting.

He wants to play the game of alliances as much as possible. The American president also brings together on September 24 in Washington the Prime Ministers of Australia, India and Japan to relaunch a diplomatic format, the “Quad”, which had been stagnant for several years.

With AFP and Reuters

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