Sydney: The leak of documents relating to India’s Scorpene submarines was aimed at harming France, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said today ahead of the signing of a deal for 12 sophisticated submarines that French defence major DCNS is building for Australia.
The French Defence Minister renewed suggestions that revelations of the major data breach in its submarine programme were the work of malicious foreign or commercial rivals, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
During his visit to Sydney, Le Drian said the leak was clearly aimed at damaging the reputation of his country’s submarine programme. “There’s obviously an intent to actually harm France,” Le
Drian said during a joint press conference with Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne.
The remarks come on the back of previous comments by the French firm DCNS that the leak was an act of “economic warfare”, though company CEO Herve Guillou declined to repeat
those accusations at a recent press conference in France, the
Defence Minister Payne said security of information on new submarines is top priority for both Australia and France following the leak of data from DCNS. She said it was a first order issue for both countries.
Le Drian, who will sign the inter-governmental agreement on the project with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull tomorrow in Adelaide with the French shipbuilder DCNS designing and building the Shortfin Barracudas, said France was implementing highly sophisticated data and physical security measures.
DCNS has been chosen to help with Australia’s 50 billion dollars future submarine programme. The new contract between Australia and France will lay out the “legal framework under which Australia and France will partner on the future submarine programme over the coming decades”.
Payne said it was “a critical milestone in delivering the regionally superior fleet of submarines”. “Security priorities are embedded,” in the sub programme, Payne said.
Over 22,000 pages of secret data on the capabilities of six highly-advanced submarines being built for the Indian Navy in Mumbai in collaboration with French defence company DCNS
were leaked earlier this year.
The circumstances of the leak are now the subject of a French investigation, with which Payne said “Australia is co-operating”. Le Drian said the leak did not include the most highly classified material on the Indian submarine but “nevertheless we look at this with all of the seriousness that it requires”.