World Leaders React To US-UK-Australia Nuclear Submarine Deal

Headline Roundup September 18th, 2021

The new security partnership between the US, UK and Australia — titled "AUKUS" — has sparked backlash from various world leaders who feel compromised by the alliance. Announced by President Joe Biden on Wednesday, the alliance between the three English-speaking nations is meant to strengthen their security interests through cooperation on defense technology. AUKUS' first major initiative will be to supply Australia with a new nuclear-powered submarine fleet, resulting in the cancellation of Australia's $90 billion deal with France to build submarines. Describing the partnership as “treason in the making,” French ambassador Jean-Pierre Thebault said on Saturday that Australia has made a “huge mistake” that showcased “unacceptable behavior between allies and partners.” The French Embassy also canceled an event that would have recognized the 240th anniversary of a Revolutionary War battle, an event that symbolized strong cooperation between the U.S. and France. While Australia is not looking to develop its own nuclear weapons, New Zealand was absent from the deal due to its nuclear-free policy; Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated Thursday that Australia's nuclear submarines will be banned from New Zealand waters.

Most stories across the spectrum noted how the AUKUS partnership has "aggravated already tense relations" with China. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian called on the alliance to abandon their "outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical stability," indicating that their deal has "intensified the arms race."

From the Left

President Biden’s announcement of a deal to help Australia deploy nuclear-powered submarines has strained the Western alliance, infuriating France and foreshadowing how the conflicting American and European responses to confrontation with China may redraw the global strategic map.

In announcing the deal on Wednesday, Mr. Biden said it was meant to reinforce alliances and update them as strategic priorities shift. But in drawing a Pacific ally closer to meet the China challenge, he appears to have alienated an important European one and aggravated already tense relations with Beijing.

France on Thursday reacted with outrage to the announcements that the...

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From the Right

In a stunning break with the United States' oldest ally, France has recalled its ambassador to the US after a blowup over a new pact between the US, Great Britain, and Australia.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves LeDrian announced the move to recall ambassador Philippe Etienne Friday night, saying it came in a request from French President Emmanuel Macron. 

He cited the 'exceptional seriousness of the announcements' – which caught France off guard and resulted in the cancelation of multi-billion dollar contracts for Australia to build and purchase French diesel submarines for its defense. 


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From the Center

China tore into the US, UK, and Australia for signing a defense technology deal that would help Australia form a nuclear-powered submarine fleet — a partnership that experts believe also serves as a response to Beijing's rapidly growing military might.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian called the deal "extremely irresponsible" and said the trio of nations "should abandon the outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical stability."

"Otherwise, they will only end up shooting themselves in the foot," he said at a press conference on Thursday.

Zhao highlighted Australia's use of...

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