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Visit of the Luxeuil Airbase - April 2015

As part of its efforts to promote transparency in the disarmament arena, on April 16th, 2015, France opened up airbase 116 at Luxeuil in Haute-Saône to representatives from 50 member-States of the Conference on Disarmament.

In his speech delivered in Istres on February 19th, 2015, President Hollande underscored France’s willingness to pursue its transparency efforts by inviting international experts to visit new sites that no longer contain nuclear weapons, including the Luxeuil airbase, where the weapons storage depots are now empty, and the Plateau d’Albion, where the silos that housed the ground-based component of our deterrent have been completely dismantled.

The participants were able to visit the former nuclear munitions depots AN.22/AN.52/ASMP as well as the nuclear-armed EC 2/4 “La Fayette” fighter squadron facilities. They were able to note the concrete effects of France’s 2008 decision to scale down its airborne nuclear component by one-third and proceed with the conversion of the Luxeuil airbase.

Les participants posent avec le commandant de la base devant un Mirage 2000-5F, base aérienne de Luxeuil, jeudi 16 avril 2015. Crédit : base aérienne 116Les participants posent avec le commandant de la base devant un Mirage 2000-5F, base aérienne de Luxeuil, jeudi 16 avril 2015. Crédit : base aérienne 116

As a result of this disarmament measure, in 2011 the Luxeuil base lost its role in the nuclear deterrent in favour of a “sky police” role. The nuclear-armed EC 1/4 “Dauphiné” fighter squadron was completely dismantled, whereas the nuclear-armed EC 2/4 “La Fayette” fighter squadron merged with the EC 3/4 “Limousin” squadron and is stationed at the airbase 125 in Istres since June 2011.The Luxeuil airbase now houses the conventional EC 1/2 “Cigognes” (“storks”) fighter squadron, transferred from the airbase 102 of Dijon-Longvic in July 2011.

Until 2011, airbase 116 comprised two specialized ammunition storage facili¬ties : one for the AN.22 bomb, retrofitted for the ASMP, and one for the AN.52 bomb, both of which are no longer in service. The ASMP storage facility will become a conventional weapons storage facility by the end of 2015.

Visite du DAMS AN.52, base aérienne de Luxeuil, Jeudi 16 avril 2015. Crédit : Anaïs LaigleVisite du DAMS AN.52, base aérienne de Luxeuil, Jeudi 16 avril 2015. Crédit : Anaïs Laigle
This visit is France’s latest effort to serve as an example when it comes to transparency, efforts that began with the commitments made by the President in 2008. France was the first nuclear weapons state to open its former facilities for the production of fissile material used in nuclear weapons at Pierrelatte and Marcoule : in 2008 to more than 40 representatives of nations belonging to the Conference on Disarmament, and in 2009 to some 20 nongovernmental experts and 30 French and foreign journalists.

France is committed to transparency efforts between the P5 States and regarding non-nuclear states. France contributes on a national and voluntary basis : it is transparent when it comes to its concrete disarmament measures, its nuclear doctrine and the composition of its nuclear arsenal. In his speech in Istres on 19 February 2015, the French President called on all States with nuclear weapons to make the same effort of transparency and expressed his hope that these visits would “inspire other nuclear powers to organize visits that our experts will be able to attend.” Disarmament efforts are rooted in confidence which is to be built in transparency and reciprocity. It is important for all nuclear powers to move forward in the same direction

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