US-Australia submarine agr. breach of solidarity among allies

TEHRAN, Sep. 28 (MNA) – Criticizing the cancelation of the France-Australia submarine deal due to the US move, Marc Finaud said the act is not only a breach of trust among allies but also will justify more strategic autonomy for Europe.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with US President Joe Biden at the White House on September 21. The talks were nothing short of a diplomatic coup for London.

They came right after the announcement of the so-called AUKUS, a three-way partnership between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Under its terms, the government in Canberra agreed to procure American nuclear-propelled submarines with the aim of modernizing the Australian navy.

Following the partnership, Australia decided to cancel a French submarine contract and replace it with a US one.  After Canberra's decision, France’s historic decision to recall its ambassadors to the US and Australia is far more than a diplomatic spat, analysts have warned.

Europe needs to stop being naive when it comes to defending its interests and build its own military capacity, French President Emmanuel Macron said today after Greece sealed a deal for French frigates worth about €3 billion euros ($3.51 billion).

The issue was discussed in an interview with Marc Finaud head of arms proliferation at the Geneva Center for Security Policy (GCSP) and a former French diplomat.  

Following is the full text of the interview:

How do you see the effect of the recent submarine deal between Australia and the US on transatlantic relations and NATO?

Seen from France and some European NATO/EU members, it is a breach of confidence and solidarity among allies.

Can such trust-killing acts motivate Europe to be more serious in gaining strategic autonomy and formation of a European army?

Indeed for some, it will justify promoting more strategic autonomy for Europe vis-à-vis the United States. However, other allies will always prefer to rely on the US power to deter Russia, whom they see as their main threat. Any building up of joint military capacities in the European Union will only occur among the interested Member States in the framework of the so-called 'enhanced cooperation' until there is consensus to move beyond that.

Many believe the deal will hurt the nonproliferation treaty. What do you think of this?

Indeed, it is sending an unfortunate signal: even if there is no risk that Australia will develop nuclear weapons, it creates a dangerous precedent. In the future, it will be more difficult to refuse access to highly enriched uranium to countries who are tempted to invest in nuclear-powered submarines whose fuel can escape most of the IAEA safeguards.

How do you assess the effect of such moves on the region's security and stability?

It is obviously part of the US strategy of containing China's growing military presence in the Indo-Pacific region and mobilizing regional powers such as India, Japan, and Australia. But there is no evidence that military build-up is the best solution. It would certainly be more effective and less costly to engage in serious negotiations, conflict resolution, and confidence-building measures.

France is going to send back its ambassador to Washington, does this mean mending the differences?

France expressed its strong discontent in an unprecedented manner among close allies. Before sending its ambassador back to Washington, it obtained assurances that close consultations will take place to prevent such a crisis from erupting again and discuss potential contributions by France to a collective approach to security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, where France has interests and a military presence.

Interview by Payman Yazdani

News Code 179165

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