A Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council and nuclear-weapon State within the meaning of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), France has always refused to participate in the arms race, regardless of the strategic context. Furthermore, she is actively engaged in the fight against nuclear proliferation. France, the first State, with the United Kingdom, to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1998, no longer conducts any nuclear tests.
France was also behind the initiative which led to the establishment of the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation and participates in the Missile Technology Control Regime. These past few years, the strengths and capabilities of the French deterrent have constantly been scaled down to the level of strict sufficiency. Indeed France has withdrawn and destroyed all her ground-to-ground nuclear weapons (destruction of the ballistic missiles on the Plateau d’Albion and Hadès missiles), reduced by a third the number of her nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, dismantled the Pacific test centre and Pierrelatte and Marcoule military missile material production facilities.
President Sarkozy has also announced an additional disarmament measure with the one-third reduction, in the airborne component, of the number of nuclear weapons, missiles and aircraft. After this cut, the French arsenal will include fewer than 300 nuclear warheads, i.e. half the maximum number of warheads France had during the Cold War. Besides these important unilateral measures, President Sarkozy has proposed, at international level, an action plan to which he is calling the nuclear powers resolutely to commit by the 2010 NPT review conference. This plan consists of the following measures: universal ratification of the CTBT and dismantling of all nuclear testing sites; immediate opening of negotiations on a treaty to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons purposes [Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty] and establishment of an immediate moratorium on the production of such material; development, by the five nuclear powers recognized by the NPT, of agreed transparency measures; opening of negotiations on a treaty to ban short-and medium-range ground-to-ground missiles and the acceding to and implementation of the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation by all States.
Since the halting of the nuclear tests, France has not developed any new weapons. She is working, in the framework of the already known modernization programmes (nuclear warheads for the oceanic and airborne components), on concepts decided on before that date. The modernization and adaptation of the French capabilities do not reflect a change of concept, but an improvement in terms of robustness and security. Because of its intercontinental range, flexibility and robustness, the M51 missile will be a crucial component allowing France to guarantee that her survival will never be jeopardized by a major military power with hostile intentions and to address any threats to her vital interests by regional powers with weapons of mass destruction. This is the role assigned to nuclear deterrence, which is consistent with the continuity of our strategy of prevention. It constitutes its ultimate expression. France is duty-bound to ensure its credibility, with due regard for the principle of strict sufficiency./.