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Biden finds himself at the center of another international storm: France says it has been 'stabbed in the back' by US-UK defense pact to take on China by building Australia's nuclear-powered submarines

 Joe Biden has found himself at the epicenter of another international outcry after the President announced a new pact between the US, UK and Australia to build a fleet of nuclear submarines to combat China.

The new alliance - called AUKUS - will see the US and UK cooperate to build Australia's first ever nuclear submarine fleet of at least eight vessels.

It has been condemned by China as an example of 'Cold War mentality' and left France fuming after the new deal saw a pre-existing $90billion contract for France to build Australia's subs torn up. 

Biden's declaration of the three-way deal was confirmation of a new allied nuclear and technological arms race against China, which has been increasing its military presence in the South China sea where valuable trading routes and fertile fishing grounds are located. 

In addition to the US and UK co-ordinating to build Australia's submarines, the allied trio will share other military technologies such as artificial intelligence, cyber defense, quantum computing and long-range strike capabilities. 

China wasted little time responding to the deal, denouncing it as an 'exclusionary bloc' while accusing the allies of possessing a 'Cold War mentality', but Beijing is by no means the only party angered by President Biden's announcement.

Paris was also quick to react as enraged diplomats declared they had been 'stabbed in the back' by Biden and Johnson, as a $90bn deal for France to supply Australia's new submarines was overlooked in favour of the US-UK offer.

The French vessels were due some time in the mid-2030s, while Biden's new pact is thought to move that date significantly closer. 

'This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr Trump used to do,' French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told franceinfo radio. 'I am angry and bitter. This isn't done between allies.'  

Biden meanwhile on Wednesday said France remained a 'key partner in the Indo-Pacific zone.' 

The deal also side-lines New Zealand and Canada - who together with the US, UK and Australia make up the Cold War-era Five Eyes intelligence alliance, but now appear isolated from the group. 

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand's left-wing leader, has since admitted that she was not even consulted by Biden, Johnson or Australian PM Scott Morrison on the new pact - adding that Australia's new subs will be banned from entering New Zealand waters under the country's long-standing 'nuclear free' policy. 

The move appears to punish New Zealand and Canada for failing to take a stronger stance against Beijing, coming just four months after New Zealand refused to sign a joint Five Eyes statement which criticized China's aggression in the South China Sea, its crackdown in Hong Kong, threats to Taiwan and its treatment of Uyghur Muslims. 

President Joe Biden, joined virtually by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, announced the three way partnership for nuclear submarines

President Joe Biden, joined virtually by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, announced the three way partnership for nuclear submarines

Biden's declaration of the three-way deal was confirmation of a new allied nuclear and technological arms race against China, which has been increasing its military presence in the South China sea where valuable trading routes and fertile fishing grounds are located

Biden's declaration of the three-way deal was confirmation of a new allied nuclear and technological arms race against China, which has been increasing its military presence in the South China sea where valuable trading routes and fertile fishing grounds are located

America and the UK are to help Australia build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines as part of an unprecedented alliance known as the AUKUS pact to combat China's naval dominance and will likely be the similar design as this Astute class submarine HMS Ambush (pictured)

America and the UK are to help Australia build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines as part of an unprecedented alliance known as the AUKUS pact to combat China's naval dominance and will likely be the similar design as this Astute class submarine HMS Ambush (pictured)

President Biden announced the deal on Wednesday night in a joint press conference with Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison (C)

President Biden announced the deal on Wednesday night in a joint press conference with Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison (C) 

Why Australia needed a new deal with the US and UK: Australia's defense capabilities are dwarfed by those of China

Why Australia needed a new deal with the US and UK: Australia's defense capabilities are dwarfed by those of China

China has inflamed tensions in the South China Sea in recent years by expanding its claimed territory, to the objection of its neighbors in the Asia-Pacific

China has inflamed tensions in the South China Sea in recent years by expanding its claimed territory, to the objection of its neighbors in the Asia-Pacific


Meanwhile Canada is thought to have angered Washington after refusing to ban Chinese firm Huawei from incorporating its technology into the country's 5G network - something America believes will leave it vulnerable to Beijing's spies.

Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not immediately react to the deal, suggesting he may also have been left out of the loop - though the Defense Department insisted it had been informed before the announcement was made while stressing the continued importance of Five Eyes. 

China's President Xi currently controls the world's largest Navy - possessing some 350 ships and subs - and lays claim to the South China Sea in its entirety, something the West and its allies hotly dispute. 

Western nations have been pushing back, sailing so-called 'freedom of navigation' missions through the region to test Xi's resolve - with the most-recent such mission sailed by Britain's HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier and her Strike Group, comprised of British and American destroyers alongside support vessels. 

Giving Australia nuclear submarines is a significant development because the vessels need to refuel far less-often than traditional subs, allowing them to stay submerged longer and roam further - potentially sailing undetected into the waters which Beijing is trying to claim.   

Australia already has diesel-electric submarines but the new stealthier fleet will be faster and can stay underwater for longer, covering a greater distance without expelling traceable exhaust gases.

The new submarines, built using US and UK components, will 'protect and defend our shared interests in the Indo- Pacific', a statement from the UK government said.

Britain will also share its cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and undersea systems with allies as part of the deal, ushering in a new era of collaboration on security and defense-related science, technology, industrial bases and supply chains. 

China already has a substantial number of nuclear-powered submarines. The Pentagon assessed in its 2020 China Military Power report that China has the largest navy in the world, with an overall battle force of approximately 350 ships and submarines, including more than 130 major surface vessels.

China was not mentioned in the cross-continental briefing but there was frequent reference to the changing situation in the region.

Tom Tugendhat, Conservative chairman of the Commons Foreign Committee, said: 'The reason for all this is clear - China.'

He tweeted: 'After years of bullying and trade hostility, and watching regional neighbours like the Philippines see encroachment into their waters, Australia didn't have a choice.'

China's US embassy reacted, however, by saying that countries 'should not build exclusionary blocs targeting or harming the interests of third parties.'

'In particular, they should shake off their Cold-War mentality and ideological prejudice,' it said.

Australia's plea for help to replace its ageing Collins-class subs prompted the new deal agreed by Biden, Mr Johnson, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The last time Britain and the US formally agreed collaborate on nuclear technology to build submarines was in 1958.

Although the US and Britain has operated nuclear-powered submarines for decades, Canberra has never built its own.

Australia is seen as essential to counter China's regional influence, especially in the contested South China Sea.

In recent years, the UK and Australia have increasingly worked together on defense, with joint training exercises.

Last night Mr Johnson said: 'The UK, Australia and US are natural allies.

'While we may be separated geographically, our interests and values are shared. The AUKUS alliance will bring us closer than ever, creating a new defense partnership and driving jobs and prosperity.'

As part of a joint statement with the other two leaders, Mr Johnson added: 'The endeavour we launch today will help sustain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

'For more than 70 years, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, have worked together, along with other important allies and partners, to protect our shared values and promote security and prosperity. 


In a live broadcast, the Prime Minister said the partnership would make the world safer

In a live broadcast, the Prime Minister said the partnership would make the world safer

The US assessed in 2020 that China has the largest navy in the world with 350 ships and subs, including more than 130 major surface vessels. Pictured: Chinese warship (stock image)

The US assessed in 2020 that China has the largest navy in the world with 350 ships and subs, including more than 130 major surface vessels. Pictured: Chinese warship (stock image)

Pictured: Chinese ships docked at Garden Island Naval Base in Sydney Harbour in June 2019

Pictured: Chinese ships docked at Garden Island Naval Base in Sydney Harbour in June 2019

'Today, with the formation of AUKUS, we recommit ourselves to this vision.' 

In a live broadcast from Downing Street, the Prime Minister said the partnership would make the world safer. 

The three countries already share extensive intelligence through the Five Eyes alliance, which also involves Canada and New Zealand.

It is not known when the vessels will be ready, but officials said the initial scoping phase is expected to take 18 months when it will be determined where they will be built and by whom. 

Mr Johnson said Scotland and parts of the north of England and the Midlands would feel the benefit of the work on the nuclear-powered submarines, with the Government keen to exploit the Royal Navy's decades-worth of knowledge of using such machines.

At a later press conference in Canberra, Mr Morrison said it was undecided if Australia would purchase British-built BAE Systems Astute class submarines or the Virginia class vessels constructed in the US.

French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and armed forces minister Florence Parly said in a statement issued by the country's embassy in Canberra that it had taken note of Australia's decision to halt the Future Submarine programme with France.

'This decision is contrary to the letter and spirit of the cooperation that prevailed between France and Australia, based on a relationship of political trust and on the development of a very high-level defense industrial & technological base in Australia,' the statement added.

Earlier this year, in the integrated review of security and foreign policy, the UK Government outlined plans for a 'tilt' in focus to the Indo-Pacific.

Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth was earlier this year deployed on a voyage East in a decision said to be about sending a message to Beijing and Russia about Britain's military might. 

France has been 'stabbed in the back' by the Australian nuclear submarine deal, a former top diplomatic official has said. French President Emmanuel Macron with Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Elysee Palace in Paris in June

France has been 'stabbed in the back' by the Australian nuclear submarine deal, a former top diplomatic official has said. French President Emmanuel Macron with Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Elysee Palace in Paris in June

'The world is a jungle,' ex-ambassador to the US Gerard Araud tweeted on Thursday morning

'The world is a jungle,' ex-ambassador to the US Gerard Araud tweeted on Thursday morning

The Indo-Pacific area is of particular concern due to increasing geopolitical tensions such as unresolved territorial disputes and the risk of nuclear proliferation.

France has been 'stabbed in the back' by the Australian nuclear submarine deal, a former top diplomatic official has said. 

'The world is a jungle,' ex-ambassador to the US Gerard Araud tweeted on Thursday. 

'France has just been reminded this bitter truth by the way the US and the UK have stabbed her in the back in Australia. C'est la vie.' 

Australia has for years been planning to build a fleet of 12 diesel-powered submarines in Adelaide via French company Naval Group, with a deal made in 2016 valued at $90billion. 

The French government later on Thursday said Australia's decision to ditch the agreement was 'contrary to the spirit of cooperation which prevailed' between the two countries. 

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said the change in plan 'marks an absence of coherence that France can only observe and regret'. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison reportedly held concerns Naval Group would be unable to deliver submarines until 2030 with deadline and price disputes. 

Defense officials have openly discussed abandoning the deal since June and told a Senate estimates hearing in June there were 'challenges' with the agreement.

Australia will instead embrace nuclear power after decades of debate - marking the first time the US and UK have shared their nuclear submarine technology with another nation. 

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