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WE ARE KEEPING NUCLEAR WEAPONS - FRANCE TELLS LEAGUE
France's Minister of Defence, Michèle Alliot-Marie, states in a letter to the League that its 'nuclear deterrent' is France's expression of choice and its only means of relying on its own forces to defend its interests. Both the UK and French Governments argue in favour of their nuclear arsenals, arguing that their nuclear missiles
Cathal Ó Luain pour Celtic League le 30/01/07 6:55

France's Minister of Defence, Michèle Alliot-Marie, states in a letter to the League that its 'nuclear deterrent' is France's expression of choice and its only means of relying on its own forces to defend its interests.

Both the UK and French Governments argue in favour of their nuclear arsenals, arguing that their nuclear missiles are only there as a preventative strategy. However, this does not justify the fact that the number of nuclear missiles held by each state far exceeds the number of missiles that could possibly warrant a preventative strategy.

In the UK case, it is widely believed that its decision to renew its trident nuclear programme is more about maintaining its 'special' relationship with the USA than with pursuing its own preventative strategy. The UK Government, who was sent a letter by the League on the same date as their French counterparts, have yet to reply to the League's enquiries about the justification for their use of nuclear technology.

The French Minister does however point out 'that France has acted to cut down on its nuclear weapons' by getting rid of some of it ground to ground missiles and reducing the funding for its nuclear armament programme. However, there is little indication that French commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty will move beyond paying 'lip service'.

Unfortunately the League did not received any response to its enquiries about France's position with regard to its civil nuclear programme, which looks likely to continue to be utilised and developed well into the present century.

The League received a reply to its 25th October 2006 letter from Michèle Alliot-Marie, on 18th December 2006. Alliot-Marie's letter can be found below, along with a translation.

"Par lettre du 26 octobre dernier, vous avez appelé l'attention de Madame Nelly Olin, ministre de l'écologie et du développement durable, qui m'a transmis votre correspondance, sur la dissuasion nucléaire.

Membre permanent du conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies, et État doté d'armes nucléaires au sens du traité sur la non-prolifération des armes nucléaires (TNP), la France a toujours refusé de participer à la course aux armements, quel que soit l'environnement stratégique. Elle cherche constamment un équilibre des forces au plus bas niveau possible.

Ainsi, la France a multiplié les actions afin de ramener au niveau de stricte suffisance la dissuasion nucléaire, notamment par l'élimination des armes nucléaires sol-sol ou encore la diminution de la part du nucléaire dans les investissements « défense ».

Néanmoins, comme les plus hautes autorités de l'État l'ont rappelé à plusieurs reprises, notre pays a fait le choix de la dissuasion, expression ultime de notre stratégie de prévention, qui demeure le seul moyen de compter sur nos propres forces pour assurer notre survie et la défense de nos intérêts.

Après l'arrêt des essais nucléaires, la France n'a pas développé de nouvelles armes. La modernisation et l'adaptation de nos capacités opérationnelles a entraîné un simple besoin d'améliorer en termes de robustesse et de sécurité les moyens existants.

Il est à noter que les quatre autres pays actuellement dotés de l'arme nucléaire possèdent déjà des missiles intercontinentaux, parfois depuis plusieurs dizaines d'années. Le M51, remplaçant du missile M46, grâce a sa portée intercontinentale et sa flexibilité est un système d'arme capital permettant à la France de se protéger contre toute manifestation majeure d'intentions hostiles.

A ce titre, son lancement ne saurait être remis en cause sans entamer la crédibilité de notre dissuasion.

Je vous prie d' agréer, Monsieur le secrétaire général, l'assurance de ma considération distinguée et cordiale.

Michèle Alliot-Marie"

TRANSLATION:

In your letter dated 26th October 2006, you called to the attention of Mrs. Nelly Olin, Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, the nuclear deterrent of France.

France is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and is equipped with nuclear weapons in accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapons (TNP). France has therefore always refused to take part in the arms race, whatever the strategic environment. France is also continuously looking for a balance of power at the lowest level possible.

Therefore, France has acted to cut down on nuclear weapons, especially by getting rid of its ground to ground arms and reducing its funding for nuclear weapons within its 'defence' budget, so as to keep only a deterrent nuclear power.

Nevertheless as France's President has said several times, our country chose nuclear deterrent as a preventive strategy and is the only means by which we can rely on our own forces to ensure our survival and defend our interests.

After stopping nuclear tests, France has not developed any new weapons. The modernisation and adaptation of our operational capacities have only implied the necessity to improve the strength and safety of our existing forces.

Moreover, it is prudent to point out that the other four countries that have nuclear power, already have intercontinental missiles, some for ten years or so. The M51 missile that will substitute the M46, due to its intercontinental range and flexibility, will enable France to protect herself against any major hostile intentions.

As such its launching cannot be questioned, without shaking the credibility of our deterrent power.

Cordially,

Michèle Alliot-Marie

The issue of both the French and British civil and military nuclear programmes was the subject of debate at the Leagues AGM in Brittany in August 2006.

J B Moffatt Director of Information Celtic League

31/12/06

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