Australia says France knew of 'grave' submarine concerns
France would have known Australia had "deep and grave concerns" that a submarine fleet the French were building would not meet Australian needs, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Sunday after the contract's cancellation set off a diplomatic crisis.
France accused Australia of concealing its intentions to back out of the 90 billion Australian dollars (USD 66 billion) contract for the French majority state-owned Naval Group to build 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines.
Morrison blamed the switch on a deteriorating strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific. He has not specifically referred to China's massive military buildup, which has gained pace in recent years.
"They would have had every reason to know that we have deep and grave concerns that the capability being delivered by the Attack class submarine was not going to meet our strategic interests and we have made very clear that we would be making a decision based on our strategic national interest," he added, referring to the French government.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Saturday denounced what he called the "duplicity, disdain, and lies" surrounding the sudden end of the contract and said France was now questioning the strength of the alliance.
China has denounced the sharing of such US and British nuclear technology as irresponsible.
Japan was particularly disappointed because then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott had promised the close defense ally the contract before he was deposed by his own party in 2015.
The government has talked down media reports of ructions between the partners in the French submarine project and delays on the original delivery date of 2027.
There have been concerns of a defense capability gap emerging that the aging Australia-made Collins class conventional submarines could not fill.
Australia's first nuclear submarines are not expected to be delivered until close to 2040.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)