France canceled a celebration of US-French relations amid outrage over a scrapped submarine deal

FILE - In this July 13, 2007 file photo, French Marine officers wait atop 'Le Vigilant' nuclear submarine at L'Ile Longue military base, near Brest, Brittany. Stealthily cruising the ocean deeps, deliberately hiding from the world now in turmoil, the crews of nuclear-armed submarines may be among the last pockets of people anywhere who are still blissfully unaware of how the coronavirus pandemic is turning life upside down. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, Pool, File)
French Marine officers wait atop ‘Le Vigilant’ nuclear submarine at L’Ile Longue military base, near Brest, Brittany. Associated Press
  • France is furious with the US and others after a lucrative submarine deal was upended.
  • Australia has decided to acquire nuclear-powered subs with US and UK support, abandoning plans to buy French-built subs.
  • Amid tensions, France canceled a gala in Washington, DC celebrating relations with the US.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

France is furious with the US and others after it was cut out of a lucrative international defense deal. Amid tensions, France decided to cancel a gala celebrating ties with the US at its embassy in Washington, DC, The New York Times reported Thursday afternoon.

France and Australia agreed in 2016 for a fleet of French-built conventional submarines. A production contract was signed in 2019, and the multi-billion-dollar deal was reconfirmed by French and Australian leadership only two weeks ago.

But, this week, the US, UK, and Australia announced a new security partnership that upended the deal with France and put Australia on a path to acquire nuclear-powered submarines elsewhere.

French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that “the American choice to exclude a European ally and partner such as France” was “regrettable,” adding in another discussion of the latest developments that “this brutal, unilateral, and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr. Trump used to do.”

He also expressed frustration with Australia, which he said “betrayed” French trust. He called the Australian decision to scrap the original deal a “stab in the back.”

French officials in Washington told The New York Times that France was blindsided by the Biden administration’s moves and that US actions undermine bilateral trust. US officials, however, have insisted that they were in contact with their French counterparts ahead of time.

Under the current circumstances, an event marking the 240th anniversary of the Battle of the Capes, a decisive naval battle that helped the Americans secure their independence from Great Britain, has been down-sized, a French official told The Times.

The French official said that having an event celebrating ties between the US and France would have been “ridiculous” given the state of relations between them. France’s top naval officer, who came to Washington for the celebration originally scheduled for Friday, is returning to Paris but other parts of the anniversary marking the battle will continue, including a wreath laying in Annapolis and port visits by two French warships.

In a statement, the Embassy of France said “the celebration of the 240th anniversary of the Battle of the Capes has been made more sober.”

Speaking to reporters Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that “we value our relationship and our partnership with France on a variety of issues facing the global community.”

Update: This article has been updated to include details and comment from the Embassy of France.