Could India and France strike a nuclear submarine deal? What will be the US reaction?

The recent spat between Australia and France gives a window of opportunity for India and France to start profitable cooperation in the field of Nuclear Submarines.

Can India and France strike a Nuclear submarine deal just like the one between the US and Australia? India and France share a very cordial relation and after Russia, France has been a reliable partner of India for its defence needs. France has supplied Mirages to India and has been the backbone of the Indian Air Force. Mirage was used to carry out the Balakot airstrike which destroyed the terror camps of Jaish-e-Mohammad. France had also stood with India and did not apply sanctions after the Pokharan Shakti Nuclear Tests.

Australia’s Loss Can Become India’s Profit

The recent spat between Australia and France gives a window of opportunity for India and France to start profitable cooperation in the field of Nuclear Submarines. Nuclear submarine technology is a very guarded and secretive technology and the big five permanent Security Council members all possess them. For years even the closest US allies like Israel and Japan have not been able to get the technology. However, for the first time, Australia is going to get Nuclear Submarine technology from the US and the UK as a part of the AUKUS deal which was signed recently between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

India and France – Long and Productive partnership

Could India and France strike a nuclear submarine deal What will be the US reaction
L To R : Emmanuel Bonne, Foreign Policy Adviser to the President of France and Indian PM Narendra Modi

Both India and France have been in the past at the receiving end of US hegemony. In the early Nineties when India was trying to get Cryogenic Engine technology from Russia, the US stopped the deal by arm twisting Russia. Again the US did not help India in dealing with the terror emanating from its neighbourhood and had to even fight a limited war in Kargil. France had a deal with Australia for making 12 conventional submarines and everything was in place until AUKUS happened. Australia rescinded the earlier deal with France and accepted the nuclear submarines offered by the US.

The deal also had ramifications on US relations with NATO countries and France in particular reacted strongly and called Australia’s action a stab in the back and not something seen between allies. Interestingly post the AUKUS deal France reached out to India and the leaders of the two nations had a long discussion. Details of the discussion are not available but speculation is on that France could offer its Nuclear Submarine technology to India.  

If France can strike a deal with India, it will also be a lesson for the US which often gets off with its follies unscathed. India and France can form an alliance to look after each other’s interests. France will also make over its loss of 12 submarines it was to make for Australia. India can rely on France as an important security ally considering past history when France dipped into its own reserves to provide spares for India’s Mirage during the Kargil Conflict. Finally, France will also be at a moral high ground and the US cannot question if such a deal is finalized between India and France.

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