By Sebastian Aguilar, Staff Writer
The U.S., U.K. and Australia agreed upon a deal to bolster Anglophone military relations, increasingly intertwining the scientific, technological and military might of the three countries.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson responded to the ongoing squabble with France over the trilateral security pact on Wednesday.
Dubbed AUKUS, the deal most prominently provides Australia with the tech to build nuclear submarines. Countries involved argue that AUKUS is necessary to counter Chinese aggression in the South China Sea. With the ratification of this deal, Australia becomes one of only eight countries with nuclear submarine technology.
French officials fumed when the pact was announced, due to a previous agreement between Australia and France to buy conventional submarines.
The AUKUS pact completely scraps the French deal, which was signed in 2016, losing France between $40 and $90 billion.
On Wednesday, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson responded to French critics of the deal.
“I just think it’s time for some of our dearest friends around the world to prenez un grip (get a grip) about all this and donnez-moi un break (give me a break),” he said.
French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called the deal “a stab in the back.”
In response to the deal, France withdrew its ambassadors from both the U.S. and Australia. Le Drian called the withdrawal a symbolic act. They reinstated their ambassadors on Wednesday.
“We recalled our ambassadors to try to understand and show these former partner countries our deep discontent,” Le Drian said.
Le Drian likened President Joe Biden to former president Donald Trump, arguing that the deal was reminiscent of Trump’s “America First” doctrine.
“This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr. Trump used to do,” he said.
Le Drian did not recall ambassadors from the U.K. but criticized their role in the agreement.
“With Britain, there is no need (to recall ambassadors).We know their constant opportunism,” he said.
In response to the row with France, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price reaffirmed commitment to the U.S.-France relationship on Friday.
“We are aware of their plans to recall Ambassador Etienne… France is a vital partner and our oldest ally, and we place the highest value on our relationship,” he said.
The Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne also reassured France of its commitment to the country, but reiterated its security commitments.
“Australia understands France’s deep disappointment with our decision, but it was taken with our clear and communicated security interests in mind,” she said.
Countries involved expected that China would be vexed by the deal. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs described the new deal as a “Cold War zero-sum mentality.”
“The nuclear submarine cooperation between the U.S., the U.K. and Australia has seriously undermined regional peace and stability, exacerbated the arms race and undermined international nuclear nonproliferation efforts,” Chinese foreign minister spokesman Zhao Lijan said.