Australia scrapped the $ 90 billion submarine deal with France “for convenience,” says contractor Naval Group, adding that it “did not fail in its commitment” to the project.
The announcement that Australia was get rid of the contract in favor of US or UK nuclear powered submarines as part of the Aukus pact has caused a furor in France, which has described it as a “stab in the back”.
“The Australian authorities have terminated the contract for convenience, thus recognizing that the Naval Group did not fail in its commitment,” said the statement from Naval Group headquarters in Paris.
“The consequences of terminating the contract for convenience are addressed in the strategic partnership agreement (SPA) signed in 2019.”
The comments come as a French official said Australia had made a new approach several days ago for a call between Scott Morrison and the French president. Emmanuel macron. While France would “seriously prepare” for such a phone call, its position is that it will have to be a substantive conversation.
From the SPA between Australia and the Naval Group was negotiated there has been accusations of cost overruns and schedules.
The SPA is secret, but the report of an auditor general Has revealed it contains “exit ramps” or “exit doors”, points at which Australia could terminate the contract in the event of poor performance. What is unclear is what happens if that withdrawal is due to a preference for different treatment rather than a failure by the Naval Group to deliver specific results.
Early morning on September 16 Australian time, Morrison, on a joint virtual address with US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he announced the switch to nuclear-powered submarines.
Minister of Defense Peter dutieston it has said that the Naval Group’s Attack-class submarines were no longer tailored to the nation’s operational needs, and that the government had been “direct, open and honest” with France about its decision.
Last week Herve Grandjean, a spokesman for the French Defense Ministry, said the Naval Group received an official letter from the Australian navy saying it was “extremely satisfied that the French submarine’s performance was excellent” on the same day the cancellation announcement was made.
According to the SPA, Australia will pay a “rest fee” to the Naval Group, but the company also plans seek more compensation.
“We have begun to analyze the financial and contractual consequences of this Australian sovereign decision for the Naval Group,” the statement said.
“We are discussing this with the Australian authorities with a constructive mindset, but it is too early at this stage to give any estimate. [of costs]. “
France beat Germany and Japan to win the submarine contract with a diesel-electric version of its existing nuclear submarine, the Barracuda. France has been open to the idea of going back to nuclear power, and Dutton says that option was considered later dismissed in favor of a submarine developed under the aegis of Aukus.
On Wednesday, the Nine newspapers reported that Malcolm Turnbull, who was prime minister when the contract with France was signed, said that the current government should have considered the French nuclear option. It has “security and non-proliferation advantages” over UK and UK options, as the uranium used has a lower level of enrichment, he said.