France and weapons of mass destruction




Weapons of mass destruction
Enlarge picture
WMD world map
By type
Biological warfare
Chemical warfare
Nuclear weapons
Radiological weapons
By country
AlbaniaAlgeria
ArgentinaAustralia
BrazilCanada
ChinaFrance
GermanyIndia
IranIraq
IsraelJapan
NetherlandsNorth Korea
PakistanPoland
RussiaSouth Africa
Republic of ChinaUnited Kingdom
United States
This box:     [ edit]
Nuclear weapons
Enlarge picture
One of the first nuclear bombs.
History of nuclear weapons
Nuclear warfare
Nuclear arms race
Weapon design / testing
Effects of nuclear explosions
Delivery systems
Nuclear espionage
Proliferation / Arsenals
Nuclear-armed states
US Russia UK France
China India Pakistan
Israel North Korea
South Africa
This box:     [ edit]


France is said to have an arsenal of approximately 350 nuclear weapons stockpiled as of 2002.[1] The weapons are part of the national Force de frappe, developed in the late 1950s and 1960s to give France the ability to distance itself from NATO while having a means of nuclear deterrence under sovereign control.

France is one of the five "Nuclear Weapons States" (NWS) under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which France ratified in 1992. France has never ratified the Partial Test Ban Treaty, leaving it open to conduct nuclear tests. However, it has signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

France is not known to possess or develop any chemical or biological weapons.

History

Initial interest

France was one of the nuclear pioneers going back to the work of Marie Curie (a Polish scientist living in France), and Curie's last assistant Bertrand Goldschmidt became the father of the French Bomb. During the Second World War Goldschmidt invented the standard method for extracting plutonium while working as part of the British/Canadian team participating in the Manhattan Project. But after the Liberation in 1945 France had to start again almost from scratch. Nevertheless the first French reactor went critical in 1948 and small amounts of plutonium were extracted in 1949. There was no formal commitment to a nuclear weapons program although plans were made to build reactors for the large scale production of plutonium.[2]

France was eager to cooperate with other countries on nuclear weapons. In May 1954 the French were losing the war in Indochina against Ho Chi Minh. At the height of the decisive battle at Dien Bien Phu France's nuclear bosses sent a request to the chairman of the British Atomic Energy Authority. It was a shopping list of items that would help them build nuclear weapons including a sample quantity of plutonium "so we can take the steps preparatory to the utilisation of our own plutonium".[3] Before the letter even arrived the French had lost the battle and the war but later that year the French prime minister, Pierre Mendès-France, made the formal decision to build the atom bomb. Britain agreed to supply the requested nuclear materials, including enriched uranium. Among the most important parts of the agreement was an arrangement for the British to check the blueprints and construction of French plutonium production reactors.

According to one source, this not only helped the French get their military plutonium reactor at Marcoule into operation quickly but it also averted a disaster, for the British found defects which could have caused a catastrophic explosion at the Rhone Valley site.[3] The same source says that when Charles de Gaulle came to power in 1958 he personally thanked Harold Macmillan for the team's work.

There remained France's request for plutonium. In 1955 Britain agreed to export ten grams but "...we would not tell the US that we were going to give the French plutonium nor about any similar cases...".[3] France was eager to cooperate with other countries on nuclear weapons.

In 1956 the French agreed to secretly build the Dimona nuclear reactor in Israel and soon after agreed to construct a reprocessing plant for the extraction of plutonium at the site. The intervention of the United States in the Suez Crisis in the same year is also credited with convincing France that it needed to accelerate its own nuclear weapons program to remain a global power.[4]

The following year Euratom was created and under cover of the peaceful use of nuclear power the French signed deals with Germany and Italy to work together on nuclear weapons development.[5] The West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer told his cabinet that he "wanted to achieve, through EURATOM, as quickly as possible, the chance of producing our own nuclear weapons".[6] The idea was short-lived. In 1958 De Gaulle became President and Germany and Italy were excluded.

First nuclear tests

For more details on this topic, see Gerboise Bleue.


De Gaulle accelerated the French weapons programme and on 13 February 1960 after many twists and turns they detonated their first atom bomb in the French Algeria desert Sahara. The bomb had a 70 kiloton yield. Although Algeria became independent in 1962 France continued nuclear tests there until 1966 although the later tests were underground rather than atmospheric.

For more details on this topic, see Opération Canopus.


The French began development of the hydrogen bomb and built a new test range on the French Polynesian islands of Mururoa and Fangataufa. On 24 August 1968 France succeeded in detonating a thermonuclear weapon - codenamed Canopus - over Fangataufa. A fission device ignited a lithium 6 deuteride secondary inside a jacket of highly enriched uranium to create a 2.6 megaton blast which left the whole atoll uninhabitable because of radioactive contamination.

Anti-test protests

Further information: New Zealand's nuclear-free zone
  • By 1968 only France and China were exploding nuclear weapons atmospherically, and the contamination caused by the H Bomb blasts led to a global protest movement against further French testing.[7]
  • From the early 1960s, New Zealand peace groups CND and Peace Media had been organising nationwide anti nuclear campaigns in protest of testing in French Polynesia. These included two large national petitions presented to the New Zealand government, leading to a joint New Zealand and Australian government action to take France to the International Court of Justice (1972).[8]
  • In 1972, the newly founded Greenpeace with financial and tactical support from other New Zealand peace groups managed to delay nuclear tests at Mururoa by several weeks by trespassing with their yacht the Vega in the testing zone.The crew was entertained by the Admiral of the French Navy in charge of the atoll when Vega was towed into the atoll. The following year, in a return voyage into the forbidden zone, the skipper, David McTaggart, was beaten and severely injured by members of the French military. [9]
  • In 1973, Peace Media and New Zealand CND organised an international flotilla of protest yachts to sail into the test exclusion zone at Mururoa. [10] [11]
  • In 1973, New Zealand Prime Minister Norman Kirk, as a symbolic act of protest sent a government representative and two navy frigates, HMNZS Canterbury and the HMNZS Otago, to Mururoa.[12]
  • In 1985, under the orders of the then French President Francois Mitterand, [13] the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior was bombed and sunk by the French DGSE secret service in Auckland, New Zealand, as it prepared for another protest of nuclear testing in French military zones. One crew member, the photographer Fernando Pereira, drowned while attempting to recover his equipment. Two members of DGSE were captured and sentenced, but eventually repatriated to France in a controversial affair.
  • French president Jacques Chirac's decision to run a nuclear test series at Mururoa in 1995, just one year before the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was to be signed, caused worldwide protest, including an embargo of French wine. The tests were intended to provide France with enough data to improve nuclear weapons without needing future testing.[14]
  • The French Military conducted more than 200 nuclear tests at Mururoa and Fangataufa atolls over a thirty year period ending 1996, 40 of them atmospheric. In August 2006 people of French Polynesia welcomed an official report by the French government confirming the link between an increase in the cases of thyroid cancer and France's atmospheric nuclear tests in the territory since 1966. [15] [16]

Possibility of use

In 2006 French president Jacques Chirac noted that France would be willing to use nuclear weapons against a state attacking France via terrorist means. He noted that the French nuclear forces had been configured for this option.[17]

Non-nuclear WMD

France denies currently having chemical weapons, ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1995, and acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) in 1984. France had also ratified the Geneva Protocol in 1926.

See also

References

1. ^ Table of French Nuclear Forces (Natural Resources Defense Council, 2002)
2. ^ Origin of the Force de Frappe (Nuclear Weapon Archive)
3. ^ Britain's dirty secret (article detailing Britain's assistance to foreign nuclear programs, the New Statesman, 13 March 2006)
4. ^ Stuck in the Canal, Fromkin, David - Editorial in the The New York Times, 28 October, 2006
5. ^ Die Erinnerungen, Franz Josef Strauss - Berlin 1989, p. 314
6. ^ Germany, the NPT, and the European Option (WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor)
7. ^ Origin of the Force de Frappe (Nuclear Weapon Archive)
8. ^ Various nuclear arms and peace activism papers (from the disarmsecure.org website)
9. ^ Making Waves the Greenpeace New Zealand Story by Michael Szabo ISBN 0 7900 0230 2
10. ^ Making Waves the Greenpeace New Zealand Story by Michael Szabo ISBN 0 7900 0230 2
11. ^ Elsa Caron, (ed.) 1974, Fri Alert (Caveman Press, Dunedin). The Yacht Fri's own story of her protest voyage into the French Bomb Test Zone
12. ^ Welcome to the Mururoa Vets website (from the private mururoavet.com website)
13. ^ [1]
14. ^ Les essais nucleaires - report of the French Senate (in French)
15. ^ [2]
16. ^ [3]
17. ^ France 'would use nuclear arms' - BBC news, Thursday 19 January 2006

External links

. A weapon of mass destruction (WMD) is a weapon which can kill large numbers of human beings, animals and plants.
..... Click the link for more information.
For the use of biological agents by terrorists, see bioterrorism.
Biological warfare (BW), also known as a germ warfare, biological weapons, and bioweapons
..... Click the link for more information.
<noinclude></noinclude>

Chemical warfare is warfare (and associated military operations) using the toxic properties of chemical substances to kill, injure or incapacitate an enemy.
..... Click the link for more information.
This page is protected from moves until disputes have been resolved on the .
The reason for its protection is listed on the protection policy page. The page may still be edited but cannot be moved until unprotected.
..... Click the link for more information.
A radiological weapon (or radiological dispersion device, RDD) is any weapon that is designed to spread radioactive material with the intent to kill, and cause disruption upon a city or nation.
..... Click the link for more information.
Albania once possessed a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. This stockpile of chemical weapons included 16,678 kilograms of mustard agent, lewisite, adamsite, and chloroacetophenone.
..... Click the link for more information.
57 (03): pp. 45-52. Retrieved on April 16, 2006.
..... Click the link for more information.
The Argentine military government of 1976 started a nuclear weapons program in the 1980s, which was scrapped when democracy was restored in 1983.

Missile systems

During the 1980s, the Alacrán (English: Scorpion) and Cóndor 2 missiles were developed.
..... Click the link for more information.
Australia is not currently known or believed to possess weapons of mass destruction, although it has participated in extensive research into nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in the past.
..... Click the link for more information.
Military of Brazil

..... Click the link for more information.
The Government of Canada does not possess any weapons of mass destruction and has signed treaties repudiating possession of them. Canada ratified the Geneva Protocol in 1930.
..... Click the link for more information.
This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject.
Please help recruit one or [ improve this article] yourself. See the talk page for details.
..... Click the link for more information.
Though Germany is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, since World War II it has generally refrained from using this technology to outfit its own armed forces with weapons of mass destruction
..... Click the link for more information.
This article or section may contain inappropriate or misinterpreted which do not the text.
Please help [ improve this article] by checking for inaccuracies. This article has been tagged since February 2007.
..... Click the link for more information.
nuclear power program, see Nuclear programme of Iran
Iran is not known to possess weapons of mass destruction, and has signed treaties repudiating possession of them, including the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Nuclear
..... Click the link for more information.
Discussion of Iraq and weapons of mass destruction concerns the Iraqi government's use, possession, and alleged intention of acquiring more types of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) during the presidency of Saddam Hussein.
..... Click the link for more information.
Jericho I with a range of 500km and the Jericho II with a range of 1,500km.
  • The Shavit rocket is used for inserting objects into a low earth orbit.
  • Third version of the Jericho missile is possible. Jericho III is thought to have been in service since mid-2005.
    ..... Click the link for more information.
  • Japan heavily invested in and used the WMD before the end of World War II

    Bioweapons

    Main article: Unit 731

    ..... Click the link for more information.
    Although the Netherlands do not have weapons of mass destruction made by itself, the country does participate in the NATO nuclear weapons sharing arrangements and trains for delivering U.S. nuclear weapons, i.e. it has weapons of mass destruction made by another country.
    ..... Click the link for more information.
    North Korea claims to possess nuclear weapons, and the CIA asserts that it has a substantial arsenal of chemical weapons. North Korea was a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but withdrew in 2003, citing the failure of the United States to fulfill its end of the Agreed
    ..... Click the link for more information.
    Pakistan started focusing on nuclear development in January 1972 under the leadership of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Pakistan's nuclear weapons development program was in response to the loss of East Pakistan in bloody civil war in which India supported the civilian rebels
    ..... Click the link for more information.
    During the Cold War, Poland had active programs for the development of weapons of mass destruction. Poland also is working with Russia to help eliminate the large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons developed by the Warsaw Pact countries.
    ..... Click the link for more information.
    Russia possesses the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction in the world. Russia declared an arsenal of 40,000 tons of chemical weapons in 1997 and is said to have around 8400 nuclear weapons stockpiled in 2005 of them making its stockpile the largest in the world.
    ..... Click the link for more information.
    During the 1980s, South Africa pursued research into nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Six nuclear weapons were assembled [1] . With the anticipated changeover to a majority-elected government in the 1990s, the South African government dismantled all of its nuclear
    ..... Click the link for more information.
    The Republic of China or Taiwan, denies having chemical or nuclear weapons. During the 1970s, the ROC had an active program to produce plutonium using heavy water reactors, but after strong pressure from the United States, the reactor was dismantled and the U.S.
    ..... Click the link for more information.
    The United Kingdom is one of the five official nuclear weapon states under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has an independent nuclear deterrent. The United Kingdom renounced the use of chemical and biological weapons in 1956 and subsequently destroyed its general stocks.
    ..... Click the link for more information.
    ^]]  Michael Barletta and Christina Ellington (1998). Obtain Microbial Seed Stock for Standard or Novel Agent . Iraq's Biological Weapons Program. Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies.
    ..... Click the link for more information.
    This page is protected from moves until disputes have been resolved on the .
    The reason for its protection is listed on the protection policy page. The page may still be edited but cannot be moved until unprotected.
    ..... Click the link for more information.
    history of nuclear weapons chronicles the development of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are devices that posess enormous destructive potential that uses energy derived from nuclear fission or nuclear fusion reactions.
    ..... Click the link for more information.
    Nuclear, or atomic warfare, is a war in which nuclear weapons are used. This has only happened once - the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States of America against the Empire of Japan near the end of World War II.
    ..... Click the link for more information.


    This article is copied from an article on Wikipedia.org - the free encyclopedia created and edited by online user community. The text was not checked or edited by anyone on our staff. Although the vast majority of the wikipedia encyclopedia articles provide accurate and timely information please do not assume the accuracy of any particular article. This article is distributed under the terms of GNU Free Documentation License.