‘A knife in the back': France cancels gala in anger at US-Australia nuclear submarine agreement

© Getty Images

The USS San Francisco, an American nuclear submarine, pictured in Apra Harbour, Guam.

– Getty Images

France has canceled an upcoming event highlighting its long naval alliance with the United States, after Joe Biden on Wednesday announced a deal to help Australia deploy nuclear submarines.

The French had their own submarine agreement with the Australians up until 2016, and bristled at their close ally seeming to go behind their back to develop a new partnership.

French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian slammed the decision as a “knife in the back” and a “unilateral, brutal, unpredictable decision” that would be expected from a Trump administration in an interview with Franceinfo radio.France had been planning a series of events honouring the 240th anniversary of the Battle of the Capes, where the French navy helped the US during its war of independence against Great Britain, including functions their Washington DC embassy and aboard a French frigate docked in Baltimore, Maryland.

Instead, France’s top naval officer, who was set to attend, was sent home to Paris early, the New York Times reported.

On Wednesday, the formation of the new “AUKUS” alliance was announced, between Britain, the US, and Australia. The pact will involve building a nuclear powered submarine fleet and wide-ranging projects on cyber warfare, artificial intelligence and quantum computing, in what’s seen as a clear attempt to counter China’s growing influence in the region.

The first programme of the AUKUS alliance will be the construction of a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines for the Australian navy, with American and British companies taking part in the manufacturing process, as The Independent reported yesterday.

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