After France had recalled its ambassadors in the United States and Australia, Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Foreign Minister, slammed what he called a backroom deal that swore at France.
He said that the recall of their ambassadors "signifies today's crisis" between Washington and Canberra. He stated that it was the first time in history that France, America's oldest ally, had recalled its ambassador to Washington.
France was in turmoil when President Joe Biden announced the agreement with leaders from Australia and Britain for at least eight nuclear powered submarines. In 2016, the French signed a contract for 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines. Work was already underway to build them. The agreement with the majority French state-owned Naval Group was valued at $66 billion.
French authorities are trying to express their anger by destroying diplomatic niceties.
Le Drian refuted reports that France had already been consulted in advance of the announcement and stated, "This isn't true."
Allies "don’t treat each other so brutally, such unpredictable, a major partner such as France... Le Drian stated that there is indeed a crisis.
Le Drian stated that "there are reasons to doubt the strength of our alliance."
The "contract of century" was a term that the French ambassador to Australia used in describing the event.
Jean-Pierre Thebault, French ambassador, stated that "this has been a huge error, a very very poor handling of the partnership," before he flew home to France.
The 2016 arms agreement between Australia and France was supposed to be built on trust, mutual understanding, and sincerity, a furious Thebault stated. "I would love to be able run into a time machine to avoid being in an un-Australian, awkward, inept, and clumsy situation."
He claimed he learned about the cancelled contract from the Australian press.
Le Drian stated in a written statement Friday, that France's decision to recall its ambassadors at President Emmanuel Macron's request "is justified by Australia's extraordinary seriousness of the announcements".
The Naval Group stated in a statement that Australia would be discussing the consequences of cancelling the contract. It also noted that the project has been in progress for five years.
Australian Naval Group employees and their families set up residence in Cherbourg, Normandy. David Robin, a union official, said that employees were told there was an option to stay on.
Marise Paayne, Australian Foreign Minister, had earlier issued a response to the recall of the diplomat and noted Canberra's "regret" about its ally withdrawing its representative.
The statement stated that Australia understood France's disappointment at our decision. It was made in line with our clearly communicated national security interest. The statement said that Australia valued its relationship with France, and looked forward to future collaborations.
Payne and Defense Minister Peter Dutton currently visit the United States to hold annual talks with American counterparts. This is also their first meeting with Biden's government.
The U.S.-Australian deal was published this week. Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, stated that he had told Macron in June about the "very real questions" of whether a conventional submarine capability would be able to address Australia's security needs in the Indo-Pacific.
Morrison did not mention China's recent massive military buildup.
Morrison was on his way back from the Group of Seven Nations summit in Britain when he visited Paris. He met with Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other soon-to be-alliance partners. Thebault stated that he was also present at the meeting with Macron, Morrison.
Morrison stated that "there were changes" in the regional environment, but did not indicate that Australia was looking at nuclear propulsion. Thebault agreed.
He said, "Everything was supposed be done in complete transparency between the partners."
Mark Dreyfus, a senior opposition lawmaker from Australia, called for the Australian government's reconciliation with France.
Dreyfus stated that the French's impact on their relationship is a concern. This was especially true for France, which has important interests in the region. "The French were left blindsided by this decision, and Mr. Morrison should've done more to preserve the relationship."