By Dr. Abdel Haq Azzouzi
France has never seen a crisis, in her foreign policy and national internal security, like the crisis that she has witnessed recently with the United States of America (USA) after Australia announced the terminating of a big contract signed with France in 2016 to buy traditional submarines.
Australia decided to replace the French-made submarines with US-made powered by nuclear power. The Australian government preferred holding a strategic partnership with the USA and Britain.
Australia possesses a fleet of traditional submarines with technology that dates back to 20 years. But for more than ten years, Canberra has worked to update her fleet to face the fast-paced Chinese military development.
Under the contract, Canberra will get traditional practical, sophisticated submarines, but she preferred turning to US and British technologies.
“Euro News” has published a report that revealed the nuclear-powered submarines are depicted as nuclear arms. The outer fuselage of these submarines does not differ at all from any submarine.
The main difference between the traditional and nuclear-powered submarines is how they are being fed with power. Another advantage of nuclear-powered submarines is that they need not be supplied with fuel.
Whenever a nuclear-powered submarine enters into service, it is supplied with a quantity of uranium that suffices it for more than 30 years.
Also, a nuclear-powered submarine can stay in the depths of oceans for months, which makes it able to disguise and carry out wider, further deployments.
The idea of powering vessels and submarines with nuclear fuel dates back to the 40s of the last century when the first indicators of the “Atomic Age” loomed then.
Since then there are six nations in the world that possess nuclear-powered submarines. Those nations are China, France, India, Russia, Britain, and the USA.
But relinquishing the contract of the traditional French submarines wasn’t a technological option only but it was a strategic choice.
We can summarize the percussions of that crisis in seven main points:
- The cancellation of the contract with Australia is considered as a personal insult to France’s President Emanuel Macron who hosted Australia’s Premier last June in the Élysée Palace (Élysée Palace) and Macron boasted their friendship during the last meeting of the Group of Seven (7G) in Britain in the same month.
- Cancellation of the contract with Australia came before the French presidential elections that angered Macron as France felt insulted and as she won’t forget what she considered as American betrayal
- The agreement between the USA and Australia reveals conspicuously the deep gap between Paris and Washington since Joe Biden came to the White House.
- France also has discovered what the traditional allies of the USA are as she put forward her interests as priorities, whether those interests go with those of her allies or not. The new alliance between the USA, Britain, and Australia costs the French defense industry some $ 65.7 billion and it threatens efforts of bolstering cooperation in the fields of trade and digital technologies between the USA and Europe. There is increasing feeling in Europe of breaking relations across the Atlantic, meanwhile, some European voices call on revaluating partnerships between Europe and the USA.
- The partnership between Britain and the USA is considered a source of worrisome to France as the old-dated French doubts remerged again at an English –spoken band that seeks to attain its interests and exclude France. President Macron Wants France to lead the European Union (EU) to a middle path during the US-China conflict. The crisis of submarines proved that strategic European independence is a very difficult matter.
- France and Europe have started to understand that the USA decreases their roles in the world system, especially in the region extending from India and China across Japan to the southeast of Asia and eastwardly to New Zealand and the Pacific Ocean. The contract of the nuclear-powered submarines is considered as a part of a US-led encircling strategy that Beijing sees as a threat to its presence in the Indian Ocean because this strategy fastens the race of arms in Asia even before the nuclear-powered submarines enter into service so China will inevitably work to escalate her policy in military modernization, especially in technologies that are able to face these submarines and to pressure her allies to take her side. The new security alliance put more pressure on China’s disputed claims for the South China Sea and other marine theatres. The merging of Taiwan with China’s Mainland deteriorates US strategy in both the Pacific and the Indian Ocean which makes the island (Taiwan) a central point in the strategy of the new cold war.
Translated by Ahmed Moamar