Paris Actions in August

Come to Paris:
August 6-9th !
International Fast against Nuclear Weapons.

Four days of action in Paris !

More information after the jump, or see:

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Weekend of events in Paris for P5 meeting

ICAN-France will hold a weekend of events in Paris to coincide with the official meeting of the Permanent-5 (P5) members of the UN Security Council in Paris for nuclear weapons issues.

Paris Rally:  Saturday 25 June 2011
No Nuclear Weapons!

14:00-18:00, Parvis des droits de l’Homme, Place du Trocadéro, Paris, France

Introduction: Dominique Lalanne

Susi Snyder, IKV Pax Christi, The Netherlands
Reiner Braun, Director, International Network of Engineers and Scientists
Kate Hudson, Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, UK
George Farebrother, World Court Project
Alyn Ware, Coordinator of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament
John Burroughs, Director, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
Kirsten Kierulf Strømme, Norwegian Physicians Against Nuclear Weapons
Arielle Denis, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons,
Robert Frye Film Director, Franck Jakson (UK), Pat Allen (UK), Giorgio Alba (Italy)

With French NGOs from ICAN-France

Music and clown show

Abolition 2000-Europe

Sunday 26 June 2011
CEDETIM, 21ter rue Voltaire, Paris 11ème

International Conference to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

Susi Snyder will present the report “Withdrawal issues: what NATO countries say about the future of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe”. Then general discussion with Reiner Braun (Germany) and Giorgio Alba (Italy) on NATO nuclear weapons in Europe and Kate Hudson (UK) and Jean-Marie Collin (France) on Nuclear States programme of modernization. John Burroughs will give US perspectives.


9:00 registration
9:15 Welcome address and introduction, Dominique Lalanne
9:30 Withdrawal issues : Susi Snyder, IKV Pax Christi report
10:15 Reiner Braun, NATO nuclear Weapons in Germany, Giorgio Alba, NATO nuclear weapons in Italy, general debate on NATO weapons.
11:15 Nuclear States policy, Kate Hudson (UK), Jean-Marie Collin (France):The new Treaty for a modernization programme.
12:00 John Burroughs, the US perspectives
12:15 General debate: ICAN Europe strategy?

12:40 Conclusions by Arielle Denis, ICAN

13:00 ending

Contact person: Dominique Lalanne:

Link to ICAN France

For events in other cities, see

ICAN France International Rally to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

P5 summit on nuclear disarmament

As decided in May 2010 at the NPT Review Conference, the 5 Permanent Members of the Security Council of the UN will meet for a discussion on "what’s next ? ". It is crucial for civil society to answer : "nuclear disarmament, now !". The official meeting of the P5 is June 29-30 in Paris.

What NATO Countries really think about US nukes? New report: Withdrawal Issues available now!

Withdrawal Issues: What NATO countries say about the future of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe

What do NATO countries really say about the deployment of U.S. tactical (or sub-strategic or non-strategic) nuclear weapons? Many assumptions have been made, and repeated in countless reports by the media and experts over the last few years. However, Netherlands-based IKV Pax Christi set out to interview all 28 NATO delegations, as well as NATO staffers concerned with nuclear planning and deployment, to ask how they assessed the future of tactical nuclear weapons deployment in Europe. The result of these interviews is now available in the report: Withdrawal Issues: What NATO countries say about the future of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.

The key findings of the report show that there is sufficient political will within NATO to end the deployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. Fourteen, or half of all NATO member states actively support the end of TNW deployment while ten other countries say they would not block a consensus decision to removed the weapons. Only three NATO members (France, Hungary and Lithuania) say they oppose an end to the TNW deployment, and only France has is willing to invest political capital to keep the weapons on the territory of Belgium, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Turkey.

Despite oft-repeated assumptions, there are no quick and easy formulae that accurately portray national positions. There is no clear relation between the duration of NATO membership and position on the TNW issue. The “new” NATO members are not more, or less, attached to the U.S. weapons than the “old” members. Likewise, proximity to Russia is no explanatory variable. Perhaps not so surprisingly, the more active countries are in nuclear sharing, the more vocal they are about wanting the weapons removed.

The process of deciding the future of TNW deployment is currently at an impasse. The Strategic Concept dictates that NATO first needs to “aim to seek” Russian agreement on reciprocal steps towards a TNW free Europe. But Russia refuses to talk about its TNW until the U.S. first relocates all its TNW back to the U.S.. To break the impasse needs careful planning by multiple actors in multiple arenas.

Withdrawal Issues: What NATO countries say about the future of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe examines the reasons NATO countries give to end the deployment, examines the challenges they bring up and recommends a series of steps to overcome these challenges.

The full report, Withdrawal Issues: What NATO countries say about the future of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe is available at

Nuclear missiles enter Ministry of Defence !

Amazing rally of Maison de vigilance : we entered Ministry of Defence in Paris Friday, February 4th, 2011

Just to see that go to :

More info on our activities :

Dominique Lalanne

New Anglo-French Nuclear Deal Undermines Security and Health

The British and French affiliates of IPPNW (Medact and AMFPGN) have issued a joint statement in which they criticize their respective governments for having signed a treaty on nuclear cooperation. In the document, dating November 2nd, 2010, France and Britain declare their intent to cooperate in testing the safety of their nuclear arsenals. Medact and AMFPGN oppose this agreement, because they consider it to be a violation of some of the major arms control treaties, and therefore a threat to international security.

Read the statement here.

UK-France Summit 2010 Declaration on Defence and Security Cooperation

The following declaration was issued by the United Kingdom and France on their November 2, 2010 Summit on Defence and Security Cooperation:

1. The UK and France are natural partners in security and defence. As permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, NATO Allies, European Union members, and Nuclear Weapons States, we share many common interests and responsibilities. We are proud of our outstanding and experienced armed forces and our advanced defence industries.

2. We are determined to act as leaders in security and defence. Security and prosperity are indivisible. That is why, between us, we invest half of the defence budget of European nations and two thirds of the research and technology spending. We are among the most active contributors to operations in Afghanistan and in other crises areas around the world. We are equally among the few nations able and ready to fulfil the most demanding military missions. Today, we have reached a level of mutual confidence unprecedented in our history.

3. Together we face new challenges such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, terrorism, cyber attacks, maritime and space security. We must be ready to prevent, deter, defend against and counter those threats. More than ever, we need defence capabilities that are robust, can be rapidly deployed and are able to operate together and with a range of allies

4. In addition, a threat to our vital interests could also emerge at any time. We do not see situations arising in which the vital interests of either nation could be threatened without the vital interests of the other also being threatened.

5. Today, we have decided to intensify our co-operation still further. We want to enable our forces to operate together, to maximise our capabilities and to obtain greater value for money from our investment in defence. We plan to increase the range and ambition of our joint defence equipment programmes, and to foster closer industrial co-operation.

6. We believe this co-operation will benefit all our Allies and contribute to the security of the Atlantic Alliance, the European Union and our friends overseas.

7. We have decided:
a) to sign a Defence & Security Co-operation Treaty to develop co-operation between our Armed Forces, the sharing and pooling of materials and equipment including through mutual interdependence, the building of joint facilities, mutual access to each other’s defence markets, and industrial and technological co-operation;
b) to collaborate in the technology associated with nuclear stockpile stewardship in support of our respective independent nuclear deterrent capabilities, in full compliance with our international obligations, through unprecedented co-operation at a new joint facility at Valduc in France that will model performance of our nuclear warheads and materials to ensure long-term viability, security and safety – this will be supported by a joint Technology Development Centre at Aldermaston in the UK;
c) to sign a Letter of Intent, creating a new framework for exchanges between our Armed Forces on operational matters;
d) to direct the UK-France High Level Working Group to strengthen its work on industrial and armament cooperation; and
e) to pursue joint initiatives in the areas detailed below

Operations and training
8. Combined Joint Expeditionary Force. We will develop a Combined Joint Expeditionary Force suitable for a wide range of scenarios, up to and including high intensity operations. It will involve all three Services: there will be a land component comprised of formations at national brigade level, maritime and air components with their associated Headquarters, and logistics and support functions. It will not involve standing forces but will be available at notice for bilateral, NATO, European Union, United Nations or other operations. We will begin with combined air and land exercises during 2011 and will develop the concept before the next UK-France Summit and progress towards full capability in subsequent years. The Force will stimulate greater interoperability and coherence in military doctrine, training and equipment requirements.

9. Aircraft carriers. The UK has decided to install catapults and arresting gear to its future operational aircraft carrier. This will create opportunities for UK and French aircraft to operate off carriers from both countries. Building primarily on maritime task group co-operation around the French carrier Charles de Gaulle, the UK and France will aim to have, by the early 2020s, the ability to deploy a UK-French integrated carrier strike group incorporating assets owned by both countries. This will ensure that the Royal Navy and the French Navy will work in the closest co-ordination over the next generation.

Equipment and capabilities
10. A400M support. We are developing a common support plan for our future fleets of A400M transport aircraft. This will reduce costs, improve spares availability and open the way for further co-operation in maintenance, logistics and training, for both deployed and home-based operations. We are in the final stages of negotiations with industry to agree a single contract with Airbus Military, which is to be signed by the end of 2011 so that integrated support is in place for the arrival of the first French aircraft in 2013.

11. A400M training. We will establish a bilateral Joint User Group to facilitate co-operation on the development of A400M training to inform operating techniques and procedures as well as exploring opportunities for synthetic and live training.

12. Submarine technologies and systems. We plan to develop jointly some of the equipment and technologies for the next generation of nuclear submarines. To that end, we will launch a joint study and agree arrangements in 2011. Co-operation will help to sustain and rationalise our combined industrial base and will also generate savings through the sharing of development activities, procurement methods and technical expertise.

13. Maritime mine countermeasures. We will align plans for elements of mine countermeasures equipment and systems. This could provide efficiencies, ensure interoperability and help sustain the Franco-British industrial base in the underwater sector. We will therefore establish a common project team in 2011 to agree the specifications for a prototype mine countermeasures system.

14. Satellite communications. We will assess the potential for co-operation on future military satellite communications, with a view to reducing overall costs while preserving national sovereignty. We aim to complete a joint concept study in 2011 for the next satellites to enter into service between 2018 and 2022.

15. Air to air refuelling and passenger air transport. We are currently investigating the potential to use spare capacity that may be available in the UK’s Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) programme to meet the needs of France for air to air refuelling and military air transport, provided it is financially acceptable to both nations.

Unmanned air systems
16. Unmanned Air Systems have become essential to our armed forces. We have agreed to work together on the next generation of Medium Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned Air Surveillance Systems. Co-operation will enable the potential sharing of development, support and training costs, and ensure that our forces can work together. We will launch a jointly funded, competitive assessment phase in 2011, with a view to new equipment delivery between 2015 and 2020.

17. In the longer term, we will jointly assess requirements and options for the next generation of Unmanned Combat Air Systems from 2030 onwards. Building on work already started under the direction of the UK-France High Level Working Group, we will develop over the next two years a joint technological and industrial roadmap. This could lead to a decision in 2012 to launch a joint Technology and Operational Demonstration programme from 2013 to 2018.

Defence industry
18. We have reached an agreement on a 10 year strategic plan for the British and French Complex Weapons sector, where we will work towards a single European prime contractor and the achievement of efficiency savings of up to 30%. The strategy will maximise efficiency in delivering military capability, harness our technologies more effectively, permit increasing interdependence, and consolidate our Complex Weapons industrial base. We plan to launch a series of Complex Weapons projects in 2011 (development of the anti-surface missile FASGW(H)/ANL, assessment of enhancements to the Scalp/Storm Shadow cruise missiles, and a joint technology roadmap for short range air defence technologies). Co-operation in this industrial sector will serve as a test case for initiatives in other industrial sectors.

Research and technology
19. We will continue with our significant R&T co-operation, devoting an annual budget of €50m each to shared research and development, with the aim of increasing this where possible. Our joint work will focus on a set of 10 priority areas that will include time critical research support to satellite communications, unmanned systems, naval systems and complex weapons. It will also include new areas of critical industrial importance such as sensors, electronic warfare technologies, and materials, as well as novel areas such as simulation and a jointly funded PhD programme.

Cyber security
20. Cyber attacks are an increasing challenge for the security of government and critical national infrastructure, especially at times of conflict. Our national infrastructures increasingly rely on connected information technology and computer networks. France and the UK will stand together in confronting the growing threats we face to our cyber security. We have therefore agreed a framework which will govern our enhanced co-operation in this crucial area, leading to strengthened individual and common resilience.

21. We are committed to confronting all forms of terrorism, at home and abroad, and remain vigilant in the face of the ongoing threat to our countries. We plan to develop our excellent co-operation in the following areas: the early detection of terrorist activities and terrorist recruitment; the sharing of information on changes in the national threat level; the prevention of terrorism through nuclear, radiological, biological, chemical and explosive devices, including through the Cyclamen programme for screening traffic passing through the Channel Tunnel; the protection of our populations and critical infrastructure; the security of commercial aviation; and our support to build the capacity of countries outside Europe for the fight against terrorism.

International security

22. NATO remains the fundamental guarantor of Europe’s security. We share the same objectives for the forthcoming NATO Summit in Lisbon. In particular, we are looking for major decisions on reform to ensure NATO’s efficiency and effectiveness. We also want a new Strategic Concept that: makes clear NATO’s continuing commitment to collective territorial defence and to addressing threats to Allies’ security wherever they stem from; addresses new threats to Allies’ fundamental security interests; and underlines NATO’s desire to work with a wide range of partners. In this context, we will pursue closer co-operation across the board between NATO and the EU, and a lasting partnership between

NATO and Russia based on practical co-operation and reciprocity.
23. As long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance. British and French independent strategic nuclear forces, which have a deterrent value of their own, contribute to overall deterrence and therefore to Allies’ security. These national minimum nuclear deterrents are necessary to deter threats to our vital interests. We will support a decision in Lisbon on territorial missile defence, based on the expansion of the ALTBMD system, which is financially realistic, coherent with the level of the threat arising from the Middle East, and allows for a partnership with Russia. Missile defence is a complement to deterrence, not a substitute.

European Union
24. We continue to support the objectives and full implementation of decisions taken by the December 2008 European Council, under the French EU Presidency. In particular we encourage all European Union members to develop their military, civilian, and civilian-military capabilities, so that European countries can become more effective at delivering security and responding to crises.

25. European Union operations off the coast of Somalia and in Georgia, Bosnia and Kosovo contribute to the overall security of NATO Allies. We will encourage closer co-operation and complementarity between the EU and NATO. We look forward to further progress by the end of 2011 and will work with the Belgian, Hungarian and Polish EU Presidencies to that end.

26. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery is among the most serious threats to international peace and security. We will work to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, one of the cornerstones of the international security architecture, and will support ongoing efforts across its three pillars: non-proliferation, the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and disarmament. We call on all countries to adopt robust measures to counter proliferators such as Iran and North Korea.

27. Iran’s nuclear proliferation activities and its persistent violation of IAEA and UN Security Council Resolutions are of the utmost concern. A choice by Iran’s leaders to respect these Resolutions and to resolve the concerns of the international community would open up a wide range of new opportunities for the Iranian people. We call on Iran to engage in serious dialogue with the Six in order to agree a credible solution, consistent with Security Council Resolutions that would provide a long-term guarantee of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. Until such a solution is in place, we call on all countries to follow the EU’s lead by implementing stringent, targeted sanctions.

28. We commend the bravery and sacrifice of our forces in Afghanistan and of their Afghan and ISAF comrades. The long term stability of Afghanistan and Pakistan and the elimination of the terrorist threat are crucial for our security. Afghan and international efforts are bearing fruit. We will enhance our contribution to the NATO-led effort to train Afghan forces. At the NATO Summit in Lisbon, we expect NATO to launch an orderly transition process for the transfer of security responsibilities to the Afghan authorities, in those areas where the conditions allow. We also call on the Afghan authorities, consistent with their commitments, to improve governance and to fight drug trafficking. We support the Afghan government’s efforts to extend a hand to insurgents who renounce terror, cut all ties with Al Qaeda and accept the Afghan Constitutional framework.

29. We recognise the major challenges faced by Pakistan: devastating floods, violent extremism and militancy, democratic reform, and economic stability. We are determined to help Pakistan transform itself into a more stable, prosperous and democratic country by providing development assistance and supporting greater trade and investment. We will build a long term partnership with Pakistan, both bilaterally and through the EU and the Friends of Democratic Pakistan group. While we recognise the increased actions taken by Pakistan towards tackling violent extremism within its borders, we call on Pakistani civilian and military authorities to redouble their efforts to fight and defeat terror networks and Taleban sanctuaries.

30. We have instructed the Senior Level Group, which will be set up under the terms of the new Treaty for Defence and Security Co-operation, to oversee work in all of these areas and to report back to us at our next Summit to be held in France in 2011.

France – enfant terrible in nuclear disarmament

Will France at least discuss nuclear disarmament?

by Gunnar Westberg

France has a reputation of being  the country where the question of nuclear disarmament is taboo. Any aspect of nuclear weapons and nuclear strategy is the prerogative of the President who does not condescend to discuss these exalted questions with the parliament or – God forbid! – journalists or common citizens. French diplomats taking part in international negotiations insist that as long as there is a bow and an arrow in the world, France needs its nuclear weapons. The reason for the French intransigence may be that the raison d’etre of the French nuclear force is so weak.

To keep Germany down and the USA in.

When the French Prime Minister Pierre Mendès-France  in 1954 decided that France should develop nuclear weapons, his decision was based on his wartime experience: he feared German rearmament. As NATO grew stronger it became clear that the organization was going to be successful in two of its three goals: To keep Russia out and Germany down. However, France distrusted the USA and was uncertain if the third goal of NATO, to keep USA in Europe, could be secured. NATO was not sufficient. France developed its nuclear strategy with the goal to force the USA to defend Europe. To this end, the French nuclear armed missiles were directed towards Soviet cities, not against that country’s nuclear installations. If the Soviet Union threatened, or invaded,  Western Europe, French nuclear weapons would destroy Leningrad, Moscow , Minsk and other big cities. The Soviet military leaders would see this as an attack by NATO . Nuclear missiles have no “Sender” label.  The response from the Soviet Union would be an all out attack on all NATO countries, especially the USA. Knowing  that this was French strategy, the US would be forced to tell the Russians that they would stand up for Europe. The French nukes were intended to force US policy.

Deterrence works only if the adversary knows what you may be able to do if he attacks you. In this case we must ask if the US knew what the French policy was and accepted its implications. I a  discussion which I had  with General Lee Butler about ten years ago he said that only when in 1991 he became Commander-in-Chief of the US Strategic Command did he learn that the French nuclear doctrine was primarily intended to force the American hand.  If this was not generally known in the US leadership, how could the US leaders tell the Russians they intended to stand up for Europe, by force if not by will. You can be too clever.

Today: Nukes keep peace and increase self-esteem in France.

The French nuclear strategy today is less diabolic, but not more rational and not more ethical. A French minister of defense said recently that if France was attacked by terrorists, the country supporting these terrorists would be subject to nuclear retaliation.  Polls in France report that many or most French citizens  say that they need to keep their nukes against the flow of immigrants from North Africa.  How the nukes are going to be used in this context is not discussed.

At  the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, we recently met with M. Martin Briens, Deputy Director of the new section for Nuclear Proliferation and Disarmament. When asked why France today needs its nuclear weapons while Germany can do without, he said that Germany was under the nuclear umbrella. One might ask, whose umbrella? As reasons why France should have and keep its nuclear weapons, he listed : 1. We have them. History justifies. 2. We have only good intentions, others, e.g. Iran, have evil intentions. 3. We have the right according to the NPT. 4. China is increasing its nuclear weapons force, soon to be equal to that of France.  I general there was so much talk about China in the attempts to justify French nukes that we almost felt that China was about  to invade France.

Fear of a nuclear weapons free world

The core of his thinking was however clear, beyond all the muddled arguments: A world without nuclear weapons is unstable. In such a world there would be much less deterrence against war.  Nuclear weapons keep peace.

This is of course a classical argument. If we look back over the time since World War II we can muster strong claims both for and against this theory. Here is not the place to review this discussion. We in the peace movement argue that had nuclear deterrence between the USA and the Soviet Union failed we would not be here to argue.  And we were pretty close to extinction on more than one occasion, notably in 1983. If nuclear weapons are allowed to persist they will be used.

It may be appropriate to remind ourselves that in a world without nuclear weapons the US military superiority would be enormous and sufficient to achieve what the nuclear deterrence might be doing today. Maybe this, the US military hegemony, is what France fears most of all?

Things may be changing?

The discussion on nuclear disarmament has been heavily censored in France, as has any discussion on nuclear strategy.  However, things may be changing. Four previous political and military leaders with a high status in France have written an article in the journal Le Monde Oct 15 2009. They are Alain Juppé and Michel Rocard, both previous Prime ministers , Bernard Norlain, General and former commander of the air combat force, and Alain Ricard, former minister of Defense. They argue that the risk of nuclear proliferation is great and increasing. Many nations may acquire nuclear weapons in the next decade or two. In that situation the ”old”  nuclear weapon states cannot force their will upon these states, for fear of nuclear retaliation. We should start a debate if not the time has come for France to greatly decrease its dependence on nuclear weapons, in order to make our anti-proliferation agenda credible.

Thus the arguments were quite similar to those from the US “Gang of Four” in their publications in Wall Street Journal in Jan. 2008 and Jan. 2009. But of course, the French paper made no reference to the US article, nor to the British, German or Polish publications with the same arguments and written by previous leaders in foreign policy and defense. France has its own independent agenda and does not follow anyone’s lead.  And the paper only asked for discussions, not for action.

The publication was within hours followed by another article, long on words and short on arguments, written by a well-known journalist, Jean Guisnel. He argued that France should not disarm, because no one else would follow. This argument is used repeatedly by all those who oppose disarmament. They pretend that unilateral disarmament has been proposed,  which is never the case.   What is and should be discussed is: How best to achieve a multilateral, transparent, verifiable nuclear disarmament? How to make credible that the ultimate goal is Zero nuclear weapons, so as to make nuclear wannabe s

Remember Mururoa!

France may be the last and the most difficult holdout. But when the endgame of nuclear abolition begins, even France will see the writing on the wall.

If not, remember Mururoa! When the President of France  threatened to continue the nuclear tests on that crumbling  island, we took to the streets and poured good Bordeaux into the gutters. It worked that time. It could work again.

Gunnar Westberg is former President of IPPNW, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. This article was originally published on the IPPNW Peace and Health Blog.

France recognises responsibility to victims of nuclear tests

The veterans of France’s nuclear testing, after years of futile approaches to military authorities and legal tribunals, all systematically dismissed or (if successful) referred to appeal by the ministry, have now won an apparently decisive victory.

For the first time, a Minister of Defense has now recognised a link, in principle, between some deaths and some illnesses (chiefly cancers) suffered by career servicemen, conscripts and civilians who took part in the France’s nuclear testing campaigns, and even by the members of the populations exposed to radioactive fallout from some atmospheric tests.

Hervé Morin has now announced a compensation bill. The onus of proof (proof of a causal link between a cancer and exposure to radiation from tests) no longer lies with the victims. In the majority of cases, such medical proof was almost impossible to present, and even an attestation from an eminent oncologist – as presented in the case of Lucien Parfait – was rejected for decades.

The conclusions of official studies on the matter “were positive“, according to Jacques Chirac during his presidency. The association of Polynesian victims “Moruroa e Tatu” quoted him as saying in September 2002 to the Tahitian press: “there will be no adverse effects on health, in the short term or the long term,” and “there are no effects to be feared on animals or plants.” “Besides, it has not been considered useful to conduct radiological and geo-mechanical surveys of the atolls for the sake of radiological protection,” even though France will still continue her “monitoring” of the sites. Similarly, the medical monitoring of personnel involved “did not result in detection of exposure to ionising radiation greater than natural radioactivity produces,” according to France’s then Head of State – admittedly the man responsible for nuclear tests being resumed straight after his election in 1995.

Today the current Minister of Defense recognises that 150,000 people could have been affected by radiation and could ask for reparation.

The victims, however, or the families of deceased victims, will have to assemble a dossier proving that they were present on the test sites – and for this purpose it seems that only some atmospheric tests will count, the only ones the army recognises as contentious.

Officially, France conducted 210 atomic tests. 17 were in the Sahara from 1960 to 1966, including the first four atmospheric tests and one underground one which accidentally became atmospheric (“Beryl”). The other 193 were at the C.E.P (Centre d’Expérimentation du Pacifique) between 1966 à 1996 – 46 atmospheric tests between 1966 and 1974, then 147 underground.

Note, however, that France’s first acknowledged atmospheric explosion, “Gerboise Bleue”, which took place in the Sahara on 13 February 1960 and prompted a victory telegram from General de Gaulle: “Hooray for France !“, may have been preceded by one or two undeclared tests in the Sahara in late 1959.

The atmospheric tests were done on pylons, or from planes or balloons, or in barges, and those in Polynesia were spread over a vast region including the Gambier and Tuamotou archipelagoes. The underground tests were in deep boreholes in the belts or under the lagoons of the Moruroa and Fangataufa atolls (“Moruroa” is the local spelling and pronunciation, but the French army and administration use “Mururoa“).

With 50 acknowledged atmospheric tests (in fact 51) certainly causing radioactive fallout, France has contributed nearly 10 % of the approximate 540 atmospheric tests of all the nuclear powers. In most cases their fallout was considered negligible.

It must be understood, however, that radioactive materials which do not fall back to earth at or near the test sites keep circulating in the upper atmosphere for years and eventually fall to earth elsewhere. As for the radioactive materials left underground, they end up contaminating the groundwater or the oceans, and subsequently the food chain. We must note also that there is no minimum threshold for exposure to a dose of radioactivity, below which it is safe. In fact, our entire planet has been contaminated by the military tests of the nuclear powers (in total over 2500 tests) and continues to be contaminated by nuclear weapons programmes and nuclear power generation.

Lucien Parfait is one of the military victims who brought a case to court. He was a conscript at the time of “Gerboise Bleue”. He was on the site at In Ekker, 500 metres from “ground zero” on 1 May 1962, when the underground test called “Beryl” malfunctioned, causing a huge cloud of radioactive dust to engulf a large proportion of those present (including the Minister of Research, who later died of leukemia which he blamed on the accident).

Since then, Lucien Parfait was operated on some thirty times. To understand his terrible ordeal, read his testimony, recently reported by France-Soir. For him, or his comrades and their families, no compensation can obliterate the suffering they endured “for France”.

What of the civilian populations of Tahiti, and the Gambier and Tuamotu islands? Judging by the minimalist conclusions of the report of Marcel Jurien de la Gravière (Delegate responsible for defense nuclear safety), submitted on 2 October 2006 to the then Minister of Defense, Mme Alliot-Marie, those Polynesian populations will have huge difficulties gaining recognition for the damage done to their health and their lives. It will be even harder for the Tuaregs of the Sahara.

But the Minister, Hervé Morin, has henceforth made provision for a very limited number of compensation payouts, as is made clear by the size of the total envelope – a laughable sum when compared with the real needs. In the present state of his bill, he is designed to have the last word on any compensation proposed by the future Allocations Commission. In his view, “a few hundred” victims might have the right to compensation. The real figure runs to thousands or tens of thousands. Michel Vergès, the president of AVEN (Association des Victimes des Essais Nucléaires), says that his organisation alone includes 800 widows of deceased test veterans.

If this new bill is to honour France’s belated “recognition of debt”, it will have to be seriously amended by France’s MPs. They must make the compensation envelope a great deal heavier – to do so would be mere justice.

ACDN, 24 March 2009

Voir la dépêche de l’AFP

Will France disarm willingly? That is the question.

A year ago, Nicolas Sarkozy spoke in Cherbourg
The Farce of France’s Nuclear Strike Force

It was just a year ago. On 21 March 2008, the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, spoke in Cherbourg, on the occasion of the baptism (without immersion) of the submarine “Le Terrible” (SNLE-NG – new-generation missile-launching nuclear sub). In his speech he announced both a continued French effort to maintain her strike force and a number of French gestures in favour of disarmament. He returned also, though very discreetly, to a conception of France’s “vital interests” – supposedly being protected by the nuclear “deterrent force” – which came close to the traditional Gaullist strategy (for which these vital interests tended implicitly to be the same as defending French territory) – much closer than had been the conception expounded on 19 January 2006 by President Jacques Chirac in his speech at l’Ile Longue (he had implied that defense of “vital interests” by nuclear means could be triggered by anything from a terrorist attack backed by a foreign state to the defense of a friendly state through the breaking of our “strategic provisioning“).

Now a year later the British PM, responsible for the other nuclear force in western Europe, has just given an important speech in London, on Tuesday 17 March, in which he confirms Britain’s wish to commit actively to a process of abolition of nuclear weapons. He had expressed this wish first on 21 January 2008 in Delhi; and the new president of the USA, Barack Obama shares this wish.

Is it possible that Nicolas Sarkozy is on the same wavelength? High unlikely. A remarkable consistency can be seen, from the electoral declarations he sent to us in April 2007 to his letter of 5 December 2008 to the UN Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-Moon (which did speak about nuclear disarmament, but not of French nuclear disarmament), and between-times in his solemn words in Cherbourg on 21 March 2008, which deserve serious analysis.

In that speech, President Sarkozy certainly did not announce the reduction “of the French arsenal by a third“, as some believe, but only “the reduction by a third of its airborne component.” That component then comprised, as far as we can as certain, about 60 ASMP missiles (air-to-ground medium-range) able to be equipped with nuclear warheads (fewer warheads than missiles) and carried by Mirage 2000N – or Super-Etendard planes on the aircraft-carrier “Charles-de-Gaulle”. These planes have been or soon will be replaced by Rafales, some of which have been adapted to land on the “Charles-de-Gaulle” or her hypothetical sister-ship” (referred to as “l’Arlésienne”).

The number of French warheads officially in service when President Sarkozy spoke in Cherbourg was 348: 1°) 3 lots of 96 intended for arming the 16 missiles on the 3 subs, with 6 warheads per missile (these being M45 missiles, which will be progressively replaced by M51s after 2010, starting with “Le Terrible”), which makes a total of 288 warheads each with a power of 100 kT ; and 2°) the 60 airborne TN81 warheads, with a power of 300 kT each. President Sarkozy stated in his speech that France has no nuclear warheads other than those “in service”.

If, as seems probable, France replaces the 60 ASMP warhead-bearing missiles with 40 ASMP-A missiles (a version with enhanced range and precision), France will correspondingly reduce the number of nuclear warheads (enhanced also); in total, the number should then go from 348 to 328, which is a reduction of … 5.7 % and not 30 %, as one recently published article might lead people to think.

Besides, this 30 % reduction in the “airborne component” could not by itself reduce France’s total to “less than 300 nuclear warheads“. Unless he deliberately exaggerated the reduction in number, the President either made a mistake or was led into error. No, there is another possible explanation for this discrepancy in numbers, much more plausible but impossible to uncover without breaching “defense secrecy”: the total reduction by about fifty warheads could be achieved by a simultaneous reduction in the number of warheads on certain missiles on the subs – those that we could call the “warning missiles”.

In fact, six TN75 warheads of 100 kT each (7 to 8 times Hiroshima) are not only useless but even completely inappropriate for giving a “final warning“. Let us wager that each of those three lots of 16 (M45s then M51s) on board the subs after “Le Terrible” enters service (planned for 2010) will include at least two (and probably not more) “warning missiles” armed each with a single warhead (and doubtless several “decoys” which are nuclear warheads without explosive charge). This would make 10 warheads fewer and a total of 86 per sub. The result of this double reduction (in airborne and seaborne components) is this: 348 – 20 – (3×10) = 298. Or alternatively: 40 + (3×86) = 298 = “less than 300 warheads“. Q.E.D.

A reduction from 6 to 1 in the number of warheads on certain missiles was already the type of adaptation of “our deterrence tool” which Jacques Chirac adunbrated in his speech of 19 January 2006 at Ile Longue. It’s a good bet that this is already the case or soon will be. Our enemies – yet to be identified – can take note.

One must point out, however, that one nuclear bomb, whether equal in power to 10-12 Hiroshimas (TN71) or to 7-8 Hiroshimas (TN75), is not better suited to the role of a simple “warning”.

That is the objection we made on 20 January 2008, the day after Chirac spoke: « Thus, a single French nuclear weapon used against ’the power centres’ (generally in the capital) of heads of states presumed to be accomplices of a terrorist attack against France will inevitably cause hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of deaths. That would be the ’disproportionate costs of their actions, for themselves and for their state’. And also for their populations, but our head of state carefully does not mention them probably because they are much less precious than the French population, or even our provisioning in oil and raw materials. That is the truth behind what he calls ’the flexibility and the reactivity of our strategic forces’. ’The choice will not be between inaction and annihiliation’, he also says. That is false: the choice will only be between annihilation of part of the population of a country declared evil and the annihilation of its entire population.»

An improvised reply was made public shortly afterwards from the office of the then Defense Minister Mme Alliot Marie. So as to make the use of a big bomb plausible as a warning, it would be exploded above the enemy, but at a high altitude so as to limit its destructive effects to electromagnetic effects. As we can see, in French strategy all kinds of improvisation are good, provided they help us to hold on to our nuclear weapons.

The fact remains that having 3 lots of missiles and warheads on 4 submarines seems to imply (on the face of it) transferring at least one lot from one sub to another, which immobilises two subs during the transfer. At that moment only two of the four subs are operational. But since they have to relieve one another on missions at sea (usually 10-week missions) there is really only one permanently in service – provided it operates “with pressure-flow”: the 4th SNLE, once loaded with weapons from the 3rd, relieves the 1st before the 2nd returns to Brittany to transfer its weapons to the 3rd, and so forth. But if the one on duty has an accident (for example an unfortunate chance encounter with a British sub, as in February 2009…) and therefore has to interrupt its mission early, perhaps even before being relieved, then there is no sub on duty to ensure the “strategic vigil”: France is then left with no “Oceanic Strategic Force” and cannot reply from undersea to an attack against her “vital interests”. In this case, 4 subs + 3 lots of 16 missiles = zero seaborne warheads ready to launch. 4 + 48 = 0 : crazy arithmetic – and expensive peanuts.

Happily, in such a situation we’ll at least have one of our airborne warheads, though we’re not sure that it will hit its target: nobody knows with the plane or the missile might be intercepted and destroyed first. And it’s even more random than that: no one can say whether the Super-Etendard or adapted Rafale for delivering the ASMP or ASMP-A will be able to take off from its aircraft-carrier: it could well be immobilised in Toulon harbour for repairs – as the Charles-de-Gaulle well knows. That is the case today in March 2009: what a catastrophe, the mighty Charles-de-Gaulle had to return hastily to port for several months at the very time when the sub “Le Triomphant” was immobilised likewise for three months, after it scratched the “HMS Vanguard”.

In this unprecedented situation, the Mirage 2000 aircraft are all that remains to guard our “vital interests”. Good luck to them. Several have already crashed during exercises.

To return to the sharing-out of warheads, there remains another hypothesis, hinted at by the Nouvel Observateur the day after the Cherbourg speech: when there are four SNLE-NG subs (once the new-generation sub “Le Terrible” enters service, as planned for 2010) the warheads will be shared equally between them, with 64 deployed on each sub and only 4 per missile (making 256 TN75s, supplemented by the 40 airborne warheads, adding up to 296 nuclear warheads in total).

In fact, although that is never stated anywhere, there will not be – not for a long time – more than three SNLE-NG subs in effective service. For this reason they will need only 3 lots of missiles. The plan is for the 3 subs currently in service (or at least in existence) – Le Triomphant, le Téméraire, Le Vigilant – to be gradually equipped with M51s, along with the future Terrible. The subs will therefore need to go into dry-dock in turn to undergo the considerable adaptations implied (M51s are larger than M45s). In other words, 4 subs paid for = 3 available. That solves the enigma of the 3 lots of missiles for 4 subs. This makes our first hypothesis even more probable, that of 3 lots of 86 (the figure that brings us closest to the overall ceiling of 300 warheads).

In the framework of this hypothesis, different forms of sharing-out are possible, other than that of 14 MIRV missiles with 6 warheads and 2 “warning missiles”. So, if each sub carries one “warning missile” with one warhead, the other 85 could be shared out in three different ways: 5 missiles with 5 warheads and 10 with 6; or else 1 with 5 missiles, 2 with 4 and 12 with 6; or else 1 with 3 missiles, 1 with 4 and 13 with 6. But those formulae are of no interest: it is useless to have some missiles with 3,4 or 5 warheads, because they would be inappropriate for giving “an ultimate warning” and would lack their maximum potential for destruction. After all, the next step after “the warning” (if the warning is unheeded or provokes a counter-attack against our “vital interests”…) is supposed to be the massive destruction of enemy cities and centres.

Furthermore, one cannot decide in advance the number of warheads on each missile by referring to the number and positions or their targets, since for the moment we lack a designated enemy or any “targeted” missiles (officially at least, France has neither).

On the other hand, it is very useful to have at least two “warning missiles” available (but no more: a third would cause the total number on the subs to drop below 15) so as to compensate for a possible misfire of the first, or to deliver a second “warning” to the same enemy or another.

From all this, we can conclude that:

  1. Our fleet of SNLE subs, although it will grow to four in 2010, will have only 3 in active service, until an uncertain date depending on the adaptation work of the existing subs so that they can carry M51s.
  2. Beyond that date, France will face an almost insoluble problem: having a sub too many (for this missile-launcher will have no missiles to launch); or else transferring warheads from one sub to another, thus reducing to two the operational subs (hypothesis 1); or else sharing them around the 4 subs, thus reducing the firepower of each missile and each sub (hypothesis 2); or sending the whole fleet to the scrapyard, under pressure from the international community which meanwhile, in spite of France, will have progressed towards the abolition of nuclear arsenals;
  3. In any case, 3 subs in service = 1 on permanent vigil, or two at best, or zero in the worst case (accidents, mishaps, captains’ appendicitis and deputy’s depression);
  4. Every sub will have on board, in all probability, 86 nuclear warheads (TN75s – or TNO if that programme is not already finally cancelled), instead of the 96 initially projected;
  5. These 86 warheads will be shared around 16 missiles, with 6 on each, except for two with only 1 each;
  6. This is probably already the case;
  7. If a French citizen external to the army, navy, diplomatic corps or ruling elite can draw these conclusions, it is likely that the salaried analysts of foreign powers can do so too. If this is correct, this “defense secret” is a farce.

Whatever the case, the virtuous “disarmament effort” which France is putting forwards corresponds in fact to a financial imperative. It would be too onerous to replace the current Mirages and Super-Etendards with the same number of Rafales: these are so expensive that Dassault and France have not managed to sell a single one abroad. In his speech of 21 March 2008, President Sarkozy guaranteed that the defense budget would not be reduced as a proportion of GDP, but emphasised that painful choices would have to be made along with a strong downward revision in the equipment programmes adopted already: to implement them all would have meant an annual increase of 6 billion euros, which is “40 % of the annual equipment budget” of the armed forces. This was described as “a wall“.

We can deduce from that sagacious observation by the President that the equipment budget for the armed forces amounts, all by itself, to 15 billion euros per year. The costs of equipping the strike force (excluding costs of operation and maintenance) amount, according to the President, to “half the justice budget or half the budget of the Ministry of Transport“. Indeed, our chocolate peanuts cost us big lolly!

Reducing the number of new ASMP-A missiles is also a move in the direction of financial realism. So is the reduction in warheads, inasmuch as it makes possible considerable savings in maintenance while reserving what is called “strict sufficiency”.

Having an explosive charge equal to at least 46 800 000 tonnes of TNT, the 348 warheads in service in 2008 (and perhaps today also) could cause between 700 and 900 million deaths, if we take Hiroshima as a yardstick. Now if France – a nation skilled in making a virtue of necessity and presenting her decisions in a favourable light – now reduces her warheads by fifty, the number of people she will then be able to kill, in the name of defending her “vital interests” and, incidentally, human rights, will be only 500-600 million individuals. That is barely half the population of China or India, though it is still the sum of Russia plus the USA (let’s not mention the Iranians, they would all die). All the same, this is ten times the figure that de Gaulle used to dream of. Surely that should suffice. President Sarkozy has often emphasised his liking for “strict sufficiency”.

As for the thought of one day renouncing her “deterrent force” completely through a disarmament process where France would sit at the negotiations table, that is out of the question. The real divergence of views between the UK and France, which could be discerned in January 2008 with Brown’s speech in Delhi, is now being confirmed. And even the new orientation which President Obama is giving to US nuclear policy is not likely to reduce it.

This has to be said (it should be said especially at the Elysee Palace): France will be obliged sooner or later – especially after reintegration into NATO – to conduct a painful revision of her position. That is unless, of course, the tension between Russia and the US over the anti-missile shield in central Europe and NATO’s eastward expansion were to increase and lead to a new arms race – and thus postpone till Judgement Day the implementation of Article VI of the NPT. The only hope of survival for France’s deterrent force is therefore an increase in international tension. Objectively, on this matter, President Sarkozy is not an ally of the Obama administration but an enemy. And no friend of peace or international détente.

On the other hand, Nicolas Sarkozy should be able to agree with Gordon Brown about nuclear power-plants, since they both believe in the benefits of “Atoms for Peace” and in human ability to spread these around while keeping them under control. For the summer, Gordon Brown is promising us a route-map for progress towards a world with no nuclear weapons but with lots of nuclear plants. Sorry, this is nonsense. That will be a grand sight to see: a radioactive oxymoron!

Jean-Marie Matagne

Translated from the French by Peter Low (New-Zealand)

ⓒACDN, mars 2009,