Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has insisted that he made it very clear to his French counterpart that scrapping the 2016 submarine deal was a possibility, rejecting Paris claims that Canberra had not forewarned them.
Speaking to radio 5aa, Morrison affirmed that French President Emmanuel Macron was made well aware that Canberra was considering other options that would serve Australia’s “national interest.”
The Australian prime minister claimed he made it “very clear” in late June while dining with his French counterpart that there were “significant concerns about the capabilities of conventional submarines to deal with the new strategic environment.”
Canberra, Washington and London announced the delivery of nuclear-powered but “conventionally armed” submarines under the AUKUS pact at a press conference on Wednesday, meaning Australia will ditch a 2016 contract for diesel submarines from France’s Naval Group. According to the three allies, the initiative is dedicated to a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” a move that appears to be countering China by beefing up Australia’s arsenal.