Submarine crisis: to bring Australia back to the “contract of the century”, the crazy dream of the French

Wishful thinking or possible rebound? Three months after the slap in the face by the announcement of the Aukus alliance, negotiated in secret behind Paris, the French authorities and Naval Group are cultivating a secret hope: that Australia will one day reverse the breach of the sub contract. – French conventional navies, realizing that the project at the heart of its very recent alliance with the United States and Great Britain, the purchase of nuclear-powered vessels, is proving too complex to carry out.

“The Australians have shown us that nothing should be excluded and be ready for anything with them”, confides an industrialist close to the case, even going so far as to imagine “A new about-face”. According to him, two parameters can be taken into account, which encourage the French to remain on their guard in this affair. On the one hand, possible Australian political changes, where the decision in mid-September of the current Prime Minister Scott Morrison, to the detriment of the partnership with France, was contested within his liberal party. His predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, did not hesitate to criticize his choice, denouncing the abandonment of the contract signed with Naval Group, and the bad blow done to France. Legislative elections are due in Australia next year, no later than June 2022. “If Scott Morisson were not to be able to make a new mandate, the game could reopen”, wants to believe this source.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers For Australia, the nuclear-powered submarine puzzle

Another delicate deadline: the end in May 2023 of the eighteen-month period announced by the Aukus alliance to examine the modalities for the construction of the nuclear-powered submarines promised to Australia by its Anglo-Saxon allies. “The project is eminently complex for a non-nuclear state. It’s not just a matter of changing the fuel once every ten years in the United States. It is not excluded that the case will fail at the end of this study phase ”, says our industrialist. If we are to believe him, in this hypothesis, the French, without ever saying it openly, would of course imagine saving what may be the late “contract of the century”, if possible in agreement, this time, with the States. -United.

Icy relationships

Unsurprisingly, French leaders remain silent on the issue. Their anger died down towards Washington after the meeting between US President Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the G20 in Rome in early November. However, they do not miss an opportunity to highlight the weaknesses of the Aukus defense pact, supposed to respond to the rapid rise of China, and to question Mr. Morrison. At the end of the G20, asked whether he thought the Australian Prime Minister was ” a liar “, Emmanuel Macron cracked: “I don’t think so, I know it. ” French officials denounced, at the height of the crisis, the “Duplicity” of their Australian ally, who did not warn Paris until the day of Aukus’ announcement.

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Submarine crisis: to bring Australia back to the “contract of the century”, the crazy dream of the French

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