Australia Says France Has 'Every Right to be Angry,' After Submarine Dispute
Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who recently drove through the streets of Sydney in a tank, has urged France to show some "common grace" after his country's decision to allow a submarine sale to Singapore.
France has said it had not ruled out taking "necessary measures" after an Australian decision to allow a submarine sale to Singapore. The dispute erupted on Tuesday when France's Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said his country was considering blocking the European Union from approving the deal between French company DCNS and Australia. He said the submarine-building technology produced in Australia could be used for "nuclear purposes". France is one of three countries that make up the EU's governing body, the European Commission. It will decide whether to approve the sale as part of a w
France is angry with Australia
over a decision by Canberra to shelve the sale of 12 high-tech submarines to Singapore. The United States, Britain, and Japan have been in talks with Australia about buying a fleet of diesel-electric subs as part of a large-scale military and economic defense review. Following Le Drian's threat, Australia said on Thursday it still intended to go ahead with the sale of the 11 new submarines. "Australia has taken note of the comments from France on the S-70A submarine sale. We note that Australia has the sovereign right to export defense equipment to other countries as a matter of international law," a spokeswoman for Australia's Department of Defense said in a statement.
What makes the dispute worse
Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said at a news conference on Wednesday that France had "every right" to be angry, but called the comments "unacceptable" and that Canberra stood by its decision. "Australia respects all treaties, including the treaty of friendship and cooperation between France and Australia," he said. "I'd take that as a sign of France's anger at the Australian government for having proceeded with this sale," he added. Jean-Yves Le Drian had threatened to block the sale to Singapore if it faced a similar situation to the French attack submarine sale to Malaysia in 2015. He said at the time that Australia should not circumvent international arms trade treaties and laws.
Why it's good for business
"I think that what I saw today is legitimate and understandable," French President Emmanuel Macron's spokesperson said. The sale of 12 submarines to the Southeast Asian country will be a boon for DCNS' parent, French engineering group Thales. The purchase is estimated to be worth around 30 billion Australian dollars ($21.7 billion). "We've been working on it for three years now," said DCNS Asia-Pacific and Africa chairman Philippe Leclercq. "It's a good moment to launch a sale because China is investing heavily, and not only in terms of submarines, but also in terms of other areas." The deal would also consolidate DCNS's position in Australia. DCNS was established in February 2016 by a merger of naval and aerospace groups EADS and DCNS.
of a strategic partnership deal this year. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hit back at Mr Le Drian's remarks. "Australia has every right to be angry, and Australia has every right to defend its national security," he told reporters in Canberra. "Australia and France have a very good strategic relationship. I think that we will be able to work this through but it is a difficult, it is a very delicate issue." Some analysts said Australia could, however, end up footing part of the bill for the new submarines. "A larger share of the offset could come from France, so perhaps not as bad as some of the headlines that are out there suggesting," said Greg Austin, a research fellow at the Sydney-based Lowy Institute.