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What France achieved

What France has done

France contributes to disarmament in several ways :
-  Reduction and adaptation of the French nuclear arsenal in accordance with the principle of strict sufficiency
-  Promotion of transparency actions
-  Banning nuclear tests and irreversibly dismantling the testing sites
-  Halting the production of fissile material and ensuring irreversible dismantlement of the production sites
-  Participation to multilateral efforts in disarmament
-  Assistance to nuclear disarmament with the G7 global partnership
-  Actions in favour of disarmament and fighting against conventional, ballistic, chemical and biological proliferation in a multilateral framework

Reduction and adaptation of the French nuclear arsenal in accordance with the principle of strict sufficiency

In accordance with the principle of strict sufficiency, the French arsenal is kept at the lowest level compatible with the strategic context, and the predictable evolution of the threats. France has thus reduced its nuclear forces and their strategic positionning.

France continues to make an active and concrete contribution to disarmament. (© DICoD / Serge Malivert)France continues to make an active and concrete contribution to disarmament. (© DICoD / Serge Malivert)

The full dismantlement of the terrestrial component was achieved in 1998 :

-  Pluton missiles were withdrawn as soon as 1991.The HADES weapons system was withdrawn and dismantled in 1997.
Système d'armes « Pluton » (1978). Retrait anticipé des missiles Pluton dès 1991. © ECPAD / France / 1978 / Pellegrino, RolandSystème d'armes « Pluton » (1978). Retrait anticipé des missiles Pluton dès 1991. © ECPAD / France / 1978 / Pellegrino, Roland

-  Surface-to-surface ballistic missiles from the Albion plateau were fully and irreversibly dismantled in 1998, before the site was redesigned for civil purposes. France is the only country to have dismantled its nuclear surface-to-surface missiles systems.

Première tête nucléaire déposée dans le cadre du désarmement le 30 septembre 1996 sur l'une des zones de lancement du plateau d'Albion. © Alex ParingauxPremière tête nucléaire déposée dans le cadre du désarmement le 30 septembre 1996 sur l'une des zones de lancement du plateau d'Albion. © Alex Paringaux

The maritime and airborne components were reduced by a third :
-  The nuclear submarines were reduced from 6 to 4
-  The air fighter squadrons were reduced from 3 to 2 since 2010

The Luxeuil airbase was converted in a non-nuclear airbase, which was visited by fifty experts and governmental representatives in April of 2015.

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

France has cut by half its arsenal in ten years. Furthermore, France is in favor of a reduction of the operational alert levels for the nuclear weapons systems, provided that the strategic context and the overall security condition allow. France took concrete and reliable actions in this direction :

-  Reduction of the alert level of its two components in 1992 and 1996. These reductions of the alert status focused as much on the reaction delays of the nuclear forces than on the number of weapons

-  De-targeting of the French nuclear weapons, announced in 1997 and fiercely reaffirmed since. It means that since 1997, no French nuclear weapon is targeted in advance to a specific target

Finally, France exercises governmental control over nuclear weapons and implements strict procedures to ensure that no weapon can be used without the order of the President of the Republic.

Strengthening transparency

Transparency measures have been carried out by France on the composition of its arsenal was as well as on nuclear doctrine and disarmament actions.

Albion dismantling. Credit = A.ParingauxAlbion dismantling. Credit = A.Paringaux

France is transparent about the composition of its nuclear forces :
-  France made public its nuclear weapons ceiling (max. 300 nuclear weapons), for the first time in 2008 and reconfirmed in 2015, and stressed that it has no other non-operational weapons. France is the first nuclear-weapons State to have stated publicly the total composition of its stockpile. The French President invited all the other nuclear States to do the same (including strategic and non-strategic weapons irrespective of their operational status)
-  France revealed the composition of its nuclear stockpile : three sets of 16 submarine launched ballistic missiles, and 54 ASMP-A air-launched missiles. It is the first time France reveals this data, in a continuous transparency effort. France invites all nuclear weapon states to take the same transparency measures for all categories of nuclear weapons.
-  Prior notification of all of France’s spatial and missile launches, and annual publication of a statement on all of our spatial and ballistic activities, accordingly with the Hague Code of Conduct against ballistic missiles proliferation (HCoC). France invites all the States to join and implement the HCoC.

Doctrine has been publicly and recurrently exposed (lastly in President’s speech in Istres on the 19th of February of 2015). Its major points are also exposed in several documents :
-  The white books on national defence and security (in 1994, 2008 and 2013) and in the National defence and security strategic review of October 2017.
-  The reports annexed to the military planning laws
-  The public speeches of the President and of the Prime Minister

France has transparently dismantled some of its nuclear facilities and keeps a clear record of its disarmament efforts :

-  Opening of the nuclear testing site in the Pacific to an international expert mission to evaluate the effects of the French nuclear tests on the environment. It was an unprecedented step among the nuclear-weapons States. This mission resulted in an IAEA report which stated that the site is entirely safe.

Installations du Centre d'essais du Pacifique en 1987 et en 1998, après démantèlement (CEA)Installations du Centre d'essais du Pacifique en 1987 et en 1998, après démantèlement (CEA)

-  International visits on previous nuclear weapon sites :
o On the previous facilities of fissile material production for nuclear weapons on the sites of Pierrelatte and Marcoule. Three visits were organized : the first on September the 16th of 2008 for more than forty representatives of States member of the Conference on disarmament, the second on March the 16th of 2009 for about twenty of non-governmental experts, and the third on July the 3rd of 2009 for about thirty of international journalists.

o On the Luxeil airbase in April 2015, of which the nuclear weapons stores are now empty.
o On the Albion plateau on June the 18th of 2015, where the silos and SSBS missiles that used to be the surface-to-surface components were dismantled.

-  The inspection by the IAEA of its civil enrichment facilities, in order to check they are not used for military purposes. The inspections on the Georges-Besse II facility are equivalent to the inspections conducted in the non-nuclear weapons States. Moreover, the processing plant of La Hague is the most inspected facility of all Europe.

-  France regularly publishes and broadcasts brochures on its disarmament efforts and reporting documents accordingly with the Plan of actions agreed by consensus during the NPT’s Review Conference of 2010.

All of these elements show France is involved in and for transparency, and call upon other nuclear weapon states to do the same . Indeed, the pursuit of disarmament is based on trust, which can only be built with transparency and reciprocity.

Banning nuclear tests and irreversibly dismantling the nuclear testing sites

Vue du Centre d'expérimentation du Pacifique (C.E.P.) en activité/avant son démantèlement.Vue du Centre d'expérimentation du Pacifique (C.E.P.) en activité/avant son démantèlement.

France announced the definitive end of its nuclear tests on 20 January 1996. France was the first NPT nuclear-weapons States, along with the United Kingdom, to ratify the CTBT in 1998. France was also the only nuclear-weapons State to have shut down and dismantled its nuclear test facilities : the experimentalcentre of the Pacific was dismantled inJuly 1998. France, with its EU partners, calls for the dismantlement of all nuclear test sites, in a transparentand open manner. Nowadays, France has not anymore facilities to realize nuclear tests. France contributes actively to the universalization of the Comprehensive test ban treaty (CTBT).

Further information :
-  The Minister of Defence published in March of 2007 a unique scientific book entirely on radiological aspects of the French nuclear tests in the Pacific. Presently, France is the only NPT nuclear-weapons State to make public such an amount of data on its experimentation sites and their impact on the environment
-  More on the nuclear tests in French Polynesia on the Direction for military application of the CEA webstie

Ending of the production of fissile material and irreversible dismantlement of the production sites

France has stopped since 1992 all of its plutonium production for nuclear weapons and extended this action in 1996 to its production of high-enriched uranium.

Démantèlement du réacteur G2 à Marcoule, opérations de découpe et cisaillage / CEADémantèlement du réacteur G2 à Marcoule, opérations de découpe et cisaillage / CEA

France is the first State to have decided in 1996 to close and dismantle its production facilities of Pierrelatte and Marcoule, which used to be producing fissile materials for nuclear weapons only. The dismantlement of these facilities is irreversible, as the representatives of member States of the Disarmament conference, the non-governmental experts and the journalists could check during their visits in 2008 and 2009. Today, France does not have any more facility to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Visite du réacteur plutonigène G2 en démantèlement, à Marcoule, pour des représentants de la Conférence de désarmement en mars 2009. Crédit = N.Petitot/CEAVisite du réacteur plutonigène G2 en démantèlement, à Marcoule, pour des représentants de la Conférence de désarmement en mars 2009. Crédit = N.Petitot/CEA

France has implemented a moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, and invites all the States have such facilities to immediately strictly respect this moratorium. It implies to end the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, and definitively shut down and dismantle the facilities or convert them, when possible, in civil nuclear purposes facilities.

France participated to the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) created by the resolution 67/53 and invited all the States to participate to the negotiation of the FMCT on the basis of the works of the GGE. France participates now to the High Level FMCT experts Preparatory Group (HLPG), created by the UN general assembly resolution 71/259.

More on
- Download the brochure distributed during the visits of the dismantled facilities(PDF 142.8 ko)
- Picture gallery of September the 16th of 2008
- Picture gallery of March the 16th of 2009 for non-governmental experts.
- Picture gallery of July the 3rd of 2009 for international reporters
- The CEA’s press kit on the Pierrelatte and Marcoule facilities’ dismantlement
- Picture gallery (June of 2009) of the Pierrelatte and Marcoule UP1 and G2 dismantlement

France is resolutely involved for the implementation of the next logical steps of disarmament : CTBT, FMCT, Disarmament verification

In order to limit the qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons, France prioritizes the entry into force, as soon as possible, of the CTBT. France was the first NPT nuclear-weapons State with the United Kingdom to ratify the CTBT in 1998, and the only one to irreversibly dismantle its nuclear test sites.

France is one of the main financial and technical contributors to the Comprehensive nuclear-Test ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO). The CTBTO surveillance mechanism, which is completed at 90%, is an essential tool against proliferation, as the detection without delay of North Korea’s nuclear tests proves it. There are 16 surveillance stations on the French soil. France and the EU foster the universalization of the CTBT, already signed by 183 States and ratified by more than 160, to accelerate its entry into force.

A quantitative limitation of nuclear weapons could be achieved through the FMCT. France promotes the launch at the Conference on disarmament of negotiations on a Fissile Material production for nuclear weapons Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT). France already supported the resolution 71/259 during the 71st United Nations General Assembly creating a High level FMCT experts preparatory group (HLPG), “to consider and make recommendations on substantial elements of a future non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, on the basis of CD/1299 and the mandate contained therein” . France has presented a FMCT project in 2015 at the Conference on Disarmament (courtesy traduction in English) 1.

France also actively participates, with a twenties member States, to the International Partnership for the Nuclear Disarmament Verification (INPDV). This partnership addresses the technical aspects and challenges tied with the nuclear disarmament verification, pursuing objectives of exchanges and mutual comprehension of the issues implied by verification actions. It also aims at strengthening mutual trust between NPT nuclear-weapons States and non-nuclear States. France will participate to the first governmental group of experts (GGE) on disarmament verification, the first session being scheduled in May 2018 in Geneva.

Assistance to nuclear disarmament in the nuclear segment of the G7 global partnership

The Kananaskis Summit of 2002 implemented the G7 global partnership against the proliferation of nuclear weapons and related material. The initiative was conceived, at first :

(1) To assist the ex-USSR countries to dismantle and destroy their unconventional arsenals

(2) To secure fissile material

(3) To reassign scientists that used to be working on the military nuclear programs

This initiative was updated since during the Muskoka Summit in 2010. Now extended to 31 countries and at the whole European Union, its mission consists mainly in implementing the UN Security Council Resolution 1540 against WMD acquisition by non-governmental actors. The initiative was prolonged during the Deauville Summit in 2011.

À Poltava (aujourd'hui fermée en tant que base aérienne militaire), un technicien découpe le nez du dernier Tupolev-22M3 d'Ukraine, l'avion stratégique fabriqué sous l'ère soviétique et capable d'emporter des armes nucléaires (27 janvier 2006). Crédit photo = AFP Photo/Sergei SupinskyÀ Poltava (aujourd'hui fermée en tant que base aérienne militaire), un technicien découpe le nez du dernier Tupolev-22M3 d'Ukraine, l'avion stratégique fabriqué sous l'ère soviétique et capable d'emporter des armes nucléaires (27 janvier 2006). Crédit photo = AFP Photo/Sergei Supinsky

France dedicated huge financial and technical expertise resources for this initiative. For example, France allocated since 2002 more than 46 M € to the safeguarding and evacuation of the worn nuclear fuel, and to the dismantlement of the nuclear reactors of two disarmed soviet submarines, on the Gremikha base in Russia. France also financed the return and retreatment of two high intensity radiological sources located in Lebanon and Sudan. France currently finances different IAEA projects concerning the repatriation of radioactive sources.

Enlèvement de générateurs au strontium sur les côtes nord de la Russie. Crédit = CEAEnlèvement de générateurs au strontium sur les côtes nord de la Russie. Crédit = CEA

Actions to promote ballistic, chemical, biological and conventional disarmament and non-proliferation

Faithful with its own principles, France acts positively to promote conventional disarmament and actively fights ballistic and WMD proliferation (such as biological and chemical proliferation).

Regarding the issue of chemical weapons, France has been very early involved in fighting the use and proliferation of such unconventional weapons. France was the depositary of the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which prohibited the use at war of asphyxiating, toxic or similar gases, and of bacteriological resources. Almost universal, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) of 1993 entered into force in 1997 and gathers 192 States Parties (only North Korea, Egypt and Israel have not signed it). It completes the Geneva protocols by prohibiting the development, the production, the acquisition, the storage, the detention and the transfer of chemical weapons. France supports the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) which implements the verification regime of the Convention.

To complete the CWC and OPWC mechanisms, the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons was launched on January the 23rd of 2018 in Paris, by France.

The Partnership, gathering 24 countries and organisations, completes the international mechanisms against chemical weapons proliferation. It focuses on the impunity of the persons in charge having used chemical weapons. The States parties commit to collect all information on the perpetrators, to share the information with the relevant authorities (national or international) and to use all the possible remedies to sanction those who elaborate or use such weapons. Furthermore, the States Parties agree to publish on the partnership website a list of individuals and entities involved that have been sanctioned by the participating States or organizations.

Regarding biological weapons, France actively participates to the works of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC- Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction). France focuses on two main axes : first promoting the BWC implementation and universalisation, and second, elaborating adequate measures to strengthen the regime and authority of this convention.

France attaches a great importance to effective chemical and biological disarmament, and so promotes the implementation of additional rules to evaluate the respect of the Convention by States parties. For this reason and since exports control is an effective instrument serving the CWC, France participates to the work of the Australia group.
France committed to conventional disarmament, and thus signed and ratified both the Oslo convention prohibiting cluster munitions (2008) and the Ottawa convention prohibiting anti-personnel mines (1999). France focuses on pedagogy and promotion towards States in order to achieve the universalization of these conventions, and to ensure their effective ratification.

France also fights against small arms and light weapons (SALW) with several initiatives and treaties. France initiated the international initiative against illicit aerial transport of SALW, and initiated, jointly with Switzerland, the International instrument for tracing SALW (2005). France also supports the universalization of the Arms trade treaty (April the 2nd of 2013) which allows to set rules aiming to achieve a responsible, transparent and proportionated behaviour when transferring conventional weapons.

More information on France’s action for disarmament

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