"[The Arms Control Association is an] 'exceptional organization that effectively addresses pressing national and international challenges with an impact that is disproportionate to its small size.'" 

– John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
January 19, 2011

France Upgrades, Trims Nuclear Arsenal

Wade Boese

Showcasing France’s newest nuclear-armed submarine March 21, French President Nicolas Sarkozy extolled the enduring value of nuclear weapons to his country’s security while he also vowed to reduce their numbers. The French president further called on other states to dismantle their nuclear weapons testing facilities and forswear certain missiles.

Sarkozy, elected last May, delivered his first major speech on France’s nuclear weapons and nuclear policy at the Cherbourg shipyard where the country’s newest ballistic missile submarine, Le Terrible, was on display. That vessel is the fourth of the Le Triomphant-class and is scheduled to be commissioned in 2010 and armed with France’s newest ballistic missile, the M51.1. The submarine will carry 16 of the missiles, which have an estimated range of at least 6,000 kilometers and are capable of carrying six nuclear warheads.

Sarkozy noted that the addition of Le Terrible and the M51.1 ballistic missile, which will be retrofitted on the other three Le Triomphant­-class submarines, is only part of France’s effort to modernize its nuclear forces. He also said that the Rafale combat aircraft this year will start carrying the upgraded, nuclear-armed ASMP-A cruise missile. The Rafale is replacing the Mirage 2000N and Super Étendard as France’s nuclear delivery aircraft. France previously eliminated all of its ground-launched nuclear-weapon systems.

Nonetheless, Sarkozy announced that France would reduce its force of air-delivered nuclear warheads by one-third. He said the move would lower the overall French stockpile to less than 300 warheads, a total that Sarkozy said was “half of the maximum number of warheads we had during the Cold War.” Although nuclear-armed states jealously guard details about their arsenals, public estimates suggest France would still field the third-largest nuclear arsenal behind Russia and the United States, which both possess several thousand nuclear warheads.

Although declining in numbers, Sarkozy emphasized that French nuclear weapons were not diminishing in importance. He described the weapons as the “ultimate guarantee” of France’s independence and “decision-making autonomy.”

After singling out Iran as a growing threat, Sarkozy warned that “all those who would threaten our vital interests would expose themselves to severe retaliation.” He also claimed a European role for France’s nuclear weapons, declaring, “By their very existence, French nuclear forces are a key element in Europe’s security. Any aggressor who might consider challenging it must be mindful of this.” Sarkozy’s predecessor, Jacques Chirac, in a similar 2006 address had invited other European states to discuss a “common [European] defense that would take into account…existing deterrent forces.” (See ACT, March 2006 .) There was little response.

Sarkozy indicated a decision to use nuclear weapons would not be taken lightly. He argued French nuclear weapons were “strictly defensive” and that their use “would clearly be conceivable only in extreme circumstances of legitimate defense.”

Turning to other nuclear-armed powers, Sarkozy urged them to follow France’s lead by dismantling their nuclear weapons testing facilities. He also specifically called on China and the United States to ratify the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which the two countries have signed. France in April 1998 ratified that accord, which outlaws nuclear explosions, and three months later completed dismantlement of its nuclear testing center.

Sarkozy also asked China, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States to join France in “transparency measures.” He did not specify what those measures were, but he invited foreign experts to verify the dismantlement of France’s two military fissile material production plants, Pierrelatte and Marcoule. In 1996, France announced it had ceased producing fissile material, plutonium and highly enriched uranium, for weapons purposes. In his Cherbourg speech, Sarkozy reiterated French support for starting long-stalled talks on a global fissile material production ban for arms.

In addition, Sarkozy endorsed negotiations to ban short- and intermediate-range surface-to-surface missiles. Such a prohibition would not affect the M51.1, which is a long-range missile, or the air-launched ASMP-A cruise missile. Sarkozy’s call follows a February Russian proposal to institute a global ban on ground-launched short- to intermediate-range missiles, which the United States and Russia have already forsworn through the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. (See ACT, March 2008 .)

Sarkozy’s nuclear agenda resembles that enunciated over the past year by the United Kingdom. The British government decided early last year to explore developing a new generation of nuclear-armed submarines while it touted a decision to cut its operational nuclear forces to fewer than 160 warheads. (See ACT, January/February 2007 .) Des Browne, the British defense minister, also recently invited American, Chinese, French, and Russian nuclear weapons scientists to participate in a future conference on verifying nuclear disarmament. (See ACT, March 2008 .)

France, Libya Sign Nuclear Desalination Deal

Alex Bollfrass

On his state visit to Libya, French President Nicolas Sarkozy signed a memorandum of understanding on nuclear energy cooperation with long-time Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi. The July 25 memorandum clears the way for French access to Libyan uranium and outlines an agreement on the eventual construction of a nuclear desalination plant to provide drinking water to the littoral desert country.

Press reports indicate that Areva, a French company, would be building the reactor for the facility. Although the desalination plant is not an immediate project, the memorandum might give an advantage to Areva in the bidding competition for 1,600 metric tons of yellowcake in Libyan possession. Several foreign nuclear energy entities have expressed interest in acquiring it. Although obligated to dispose of it after ending a clandestine nuclear weapons program, Libya’s plans for the yellowcake are not known.

Areva’s reactor would power the energy-intensive process of making salt water potable. According to the World Nuclear Association, an industry group, 30 million cubic meters of seawater are desalinated every day worldwide. About one-half of this amount is processed in the Middle East, mostly in hydrocarbon-powered plants.

The type of reactor to be used in the facility has yet to be decided. Sarkozy disputed a recent announcement that Libya was purchasing a European Pressurized Water Reactor from Areva.

Libya’s acquisition of the Milan anti-tank missile system and communication equipment was also announced during Sarkozy’s visit. French opposition leaders, among them Socialist leader François Hollande, have called for a parliamentary probe, suspecting that this sale was improperly linked to the release of six medics from Libyan captivity. The missile supplier maintains that the deal had been under discussion for 18 months.

Preparations for the French-Libyan nuclear cooperation agreement started in 2005. Its conclusion marks another milestone in Libya’s normalization of relations with the West. As recently as 2003, the North African country was working to develop a nuclear weapons capability.

The United Kingdom and the United States choreographed Libya’s return to the international mainstream, but France has most actively taken commercial advantage of the end of sanctions. Both the United Kingdom and Russia have pledged to cooperate with Libya on medical applications of nuclear technology.

Later this year, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to visit Libya to further cooperation between Washington and Tripoli. According to Department of State spokesperson Sean McCormack, Rice wishes to “mark the fact that this is a very changed relationship” since she first joined the Bush administration as national security adviser.

On his state visit to Libya, French President Nicolas Sarkozy signed a memorandum of understanding on nuclear energy cooperation with long-time Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi. The July 25 memorandum clears the way for French access to Libyan uranium and outlines an agreement on the eventual construction of a nuclear desalination plant to provide drinking water to the littoral desert country. (Continue)

France, Libya Agree to Nuclear Cooperation

William Huntington

France and Libya March 15 signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement, the first of its kind for Tripoli since its 2003 pledge to comprehensively dismantle its nuclear and chemical weapons programs.

France ’s commitment to assist Libya’s civil nuclear program would not have been possible only a few years ago when Tripoli suffered under UN Security Council sanctions. Those international measures were adopted following the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the 1989 bombing of a French flight over Niger. Additionally, the United States imposed sanctions under the 1996 Iran-Libya Sanctions Act to hinder Tripoli’s ability to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The Security Council suspended its sanctions in 1999 following Libyan cooperation in the airline bombings investigations and permanently lifted them in September 2003 after Tripoli committed to paying $2.7 billion in restitution to the families of the victims of the Pan Am bombing. Most U.S. sanctions were removed in 2004. However, some remain as Libya is still listed by the U.S. government as a state sponsor of terrorism.

In October 2003, German and Italian authorities interdicted a ship en route to Libya carrying centrifuge components. On Dec. 19 of that year, following secret negotiations with the United Kingdom and the United States , Libya announced that it would dismantle its WMD programs, release all information regarding those programs, and allow inspectors to verify its disarmament and compliance with international obligations. (See ACT, January/February 2004.)

Among the significant disclosures by Tripoli in the course of its disarmament was information regarding the proliferation network of Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan. Khan supplied Libya and other states, including Iran, with components for nuclear weapons programs, including centrifuges. Gas centrifuges can produce highly enriched uranium, which can be used as fissile material in nuclear weapons.

Since abandoning its unconventional weapons programs, Libya has taken a number of steps to align itself with the global nonproliferation regime and convince other states of its commitment to disarmament. It signed an additional protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency to allow for more intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities, ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention, and destroyed its stock of missiles whose ranges and payloads exceeded the Missile Technology Control Regime guidelines. (See ACT, April 2004.)

French nuclear assistance will contribute to medical and industrial isotope production and water desalinization, according to the French Atomic Energy Commission. Libyan nuclear technicians will also receive training, said French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jean-Baptiste Mattei, who was quoted by Reuters March 15.


France and Libya March 15 signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement, the first of its kind for Tripoli since its 2003 pledge to comprehensively dismantle its nuclear and chemical weapons programs.

France ’s commitment to assist Libya’s civil nuclear program would not have been possible only a few years ago when Tripoli suffered under UN Security Council sanctions. Those international measures were adopted following the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the 1989 bombing of a French flight over Niger. Additionally, the United States imposed sanctions under the 1996 Iran-Libya Sanctions Act to hinder Tripoli’s ability to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD). (Continue)

The 2005 NPT Review Conference: A French Perspective

Ambassador Jean-David Levitte

For France, the 2005 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference will need first and foremost to confirm the credibility of the NPT as one of the main elements of international peace and security and to demonstrate the efficiency of the review process against a backdrop of pressing challenges.

States-parties will have to restate that the goal of nuclear nonproliferation as established by the treaty remains their priority. We expect them to come up with proposals to solve the problems the NPT faces while respecting a balanced review of the three pillars of the treaty: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards and nonproliferation, disarmament, and peaceful uses for nuclear energy.

A number of ideas put forward this past year by France, other countries, and IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei will surely be considered in the course of the conference. These include proposals on noncompliance, controls over sensitive nuclear technologies, assurances of access to nuclear fuel, suspension of nuclear cooperation with countries violating their commitments, and withdrawal from the NPT. France will also pay great attention to the preservation of cooperation on peaceful uses. The role of nuclear energy for sustainable development should be highlighted in this context.

Important efforts by nuclear-weapon states in the field of nuclear disarmament since the end of the Cold War should also be underlined. Since its accession in 1992 and in response to an international situation characterized by the end of the Cold War and undeniable progress toward complete and general disarmament, France has made a series of major decisions aimed at implementing Article VI of the NPT, which calls for it and the four other nuclear-weapon states (the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, and China) to make “good faith” efforts toward nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.

All told, since 1990, France has halved the number of nuclear delivery vehicles in its force, and the number of nuclear weapons systems is down from six to two. The share of nuclear forces in total French defence spending has dropped from 17 percent in 1990 to less than 9.5 percent in 2004. These numbers show that France has followed its declared doctrine of “strict sufficiency” in shaping its deterrent force, a key pillar of its security.

France is currently implementing the decisions it has made in the field of nuclear disarmament, such as dismantling the Pierrelatte and Marcoule facilities for producing fissile materials for nuclear weapons. France is alone among the nuclear powers in undertaking this long, complex, and costly process.

France has also adopted several measures from the guidelines outlined in the program of action after the 1995 review conference. That program’s three points were: conclusion of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT); negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT); and a determination to press forward systematically and progressively toward the reduction of nuclear weapons as a whole and to work for general and complete disarmament.

France signed and ratified the CTBT and has taken steps to carry out all of its requirements even before the treaty has entered into force. Most importantly, France no longer has nuclear testing facilities. France is well aware, however, that the CTBT has still not entered into force and that hence the states-parties to the NPT have not yet fulfilled the spirit of Point One in the 1995 Program of Action. As a member of the European Union, France supports the Common Position of the Council (European Union Council of Ministers) on the universalization and reinforcement of multilateral agreements in the field of nonproliferation. The French government is also contributing actively to the work of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization Preparatory Commission.

France also supports launching negotiations on an FMCT at the Conference on Disarmament, but this effort in Geneva is stalled. As mentioned before, France no longer has facilities for the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons.

France supports the ongoing efforts to bring about a global reduction in nuclear arsenals. Most prominent among these are the efforts of the United States and Russia, notably through the implementation of the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT). The number of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of these two countries is out of all proportion to the other nuclear-weapon states. Where operationally deployed strategic offensive nuclear weapons are concerned, their reduction to 2,200 or even fewer warheads between now and 2012 will represent an unprecedented step in its scope.

Moreover, France is participating in concrete actions beyond its borders. In particular, it is committed to contribute to Russia’s plutonium disposition program, within the framework of an agreement now being negotiated within the Multilateral Plutonium Disposition Group. This agreement will augment a 2000 agreement between the United States and Russia in which each country agreed to dispose or convert to civilian use 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium. This project is being undertaken within the framework of the Global Partnership of the Group of Eight, to which France has pledged to contribute 750 million euros.

Pursuant to Article VI of the NPT, France is also working for general and complete disarmament. It is active in all areas of disarmament. It is a party to the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Ottawa Convention on the prohibition of anti-personnel mines and to several agreements in the conventional sphere. France adhered to the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation. France is making constant efforts to secure the implementation, universalization, and strengthening of these instruments.
One other important path to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation lies in the regional approach, through peace efforts in South Asia and in the Middle East and, where regional conditions permit, through nuclear-weapon-free zones.

Lastly, France has given negative security assurances to more than 100 countries in treaty form. It has also given negative security assurances to all NPT states-parties through a declaration on April 6, 1995. This commitment is consistent with the right of legitimate self-defense as recognized in Article 51 of the UN Charter. States that violate their nonproliferation commitments cannot claim protection under these assurances.

One must also underline the role of positive security assurances that, in the same ways as negative security assurances, provide a guarantee against the use of nuclear weapons to those non-nuclear-weapon states that respect their obligations.

Since its accession to the NPT in the early 1990s, France has fulfilled its commitments in good faith, through a series of gestures whose scale is well known to all NPT states-parties. Our efforts have been made in response to the strategic situation; to the threats to our country, Europe, and our allies; and to the progress in general toward complete disarmament and in the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.

Yet, we know now that, over the same period, certain states have engaged in clandestine nuclear programs. NPT states-parties all placed their confidence in collective security and respect for nonproliferation commitments by other states-parties. The revelations of recent months about nuclear proliferation crises and the networks supplying them have made clear the extent of the threat to the security of each one of us presented by the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

We all understand the prime challenges facing the NPT today if it is to remain a credible instrument in preserving world peace and security. Although efforts to implement the various aspects of Article VI continue, it is imperative to restore confidence in the NPT’s equilibria.

Given the current context of proliferation crises, success at the 2005 NPT Review Conference will rest on the quality of debates, demonstrating that the review process can adequately address the challenges to the NPT, and on the ability of the conference to agree on substantive measures to answer these challenges.

France wishes to participate in a serious, rigorous, and balanced review process of the implementation of the treaty. Achieving consensus on documents is important in this regard, and we hope we will be able to reach in 2005 a result acceptable to all.


France on Key Nuclear Issues

Nuclear Warhead Arsenal: Approximately 350 warheads total.

Latest Nuclear Force Developments: France decided in 1996 to eliminate the land-based component of its nuclear triad. Paris is currently moving toward replacing its submarine-launched ballistic missile with a new model.

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: Signed September 24, 1996. Ratified April 6, 1998. France dismantled its nuclear testing center by July 1998.

Fissile Material Production for Weapons: French President Jacques Chirac declared in February 1996 that France no longer produces fissile material for nuclear weapons. He also pledged that France would dismantle its fissile material production facilities for arms. France publicly supports negotiation of an “effectively verifiable” fissile material cutoff treaty, although it reportedly may be receptive to a recent U.S. proposal on concluding an agreement without a verification regime.

Nuclear Use Doctrine: In May 2000, France reaffirmed its 1995 pledge not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Paris does not rule out the first use of nuclear weapons.


Sources: Arms Control Association, Institute for Science and International Security, Natural Resources Defense Council, and national governments.

France's Nuclear Disarmament Actions

September 1991:
Announcement of the early phasing out of Pluton tactical surface-to-surface missiles and AN-52 gravity bombs

August 1992:
France ratifies the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

November 1992:
Cessation of production of plutonium for nuclear weapons

January 1996:
Final nuclear test

February 1996:
Announcement of the closing of the Pierrelatte and Marcoule facilities for the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons and of the Pacific test site; announcement of reduction in the number of ballistic missile nuclear submarines from five to four; announcement of the end of the Mirage IV’s nuclear mission; announcement of the abandonment of the surface-to-surface component of the nuclear forces through the standing down and destruction of the Hadès and S3D surface-to-surface missiles

June 1996:
Cessation of production of highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons

September 1996:
Signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, ratified in April 1998

September 1997:
Announcement that no part of its nuclear deterrent forces was aimed at a particular target

April 2003:
Ratification of an additional protocol to its safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency

Ambassador Jean-David Levitte is France’s ambassador to the United States. He has also served as France’s permanent representative to the United Nations and President Jacques Chirac’s senior diplomatic adviser.

U.S. Requests License for Plutonium Shipment to France

The Department of Energy has filed an application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeking permission to ship up to 140 kg (308 lbs) of weapons-grade plutonium oxide to France next year to advance U.S. efforts to convert excess U.S. plutonium stocks into mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel. MOX is a combination of plutonium oxide and uranium oxide that can be used in nuclear reactors.

According to the license request submitted by the Energy Department Oct. 1, the program is “necessary to obtain…approval for large-scale use of weapon[s]-grade MOX fuel in commercial reactors.” The Bush administration decided in January 2002 to convert U.S. stocks of excess weapon-grade plutonium to MOX fuel as the primary means of eliminating 34 tons of plutonium no longer necessary for military use in compliance with a 2000 agreement with Russia. (See ACT, March 2002.) Under the plan, the Energy Department would ship plutonium from Los Alamos National Laboratory to France’s Cadarache MOX facility.

The plutonium would be converted into MOX fuel, returned to the United States, and tested in the Catawba nuclear power plant in South Carolina to “confirm fuel performance and to demonstrate the United States’ capability to receive, inspect, [and] store the fuel assemblies at commercial reactors.” The Energy Department requested that the application review be completed by June 15, 2004, with an eye toward shipping the material in August 2004.

The United States currently is developing its own MOX fabrication facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. According to Energy Department officials, the United States must process the test fuel in France because it is unable to manufacture MOX fuel at this time. The U.S. facility is slated to start up in 2007.

In an attempt to head off concerns about possible proliferation and safety risks in transferring the weapons-grade material, the Energy Department application outlined security measures that would be taken. The Energy Department’s Safe Secure Transport system would provide guarded transportation of the material on the U.S. side, and the fissile material would be safeguarded in accordance with the U.S.-EURATOM peaceful nuclear agreement in France and while in transit overseas. The French government assured U.S. officials that material safeguards would be implemented in compliance with international regulations and that France would take security measures “comparable to those used” in the United States.

France's Deterrence Policy in Question

French President Jacques Chirac has denied an Oct. 27 report published in the French newspaper Libération that he plans to modify the country’s current policy of nuclear deterrence to “target what the Americans call rogue states.” The paper cites an unidentified French senior military official and indicates that the strategy may evolve over the long term to address a possible threat from China as well.

Chirac’s office issued a statement Oct. 28 stating that his country’s nuclear use policy has not shifted from the deterrence doctrine he outlined in a June 2001 speech at the Institut des Hautes Études de Défense Nationale. However, according to Reuters, French General Bernard Norlain commented Oct. 27 on French LCI television that “there is of course a need to adapt” France’s nuclear policy in light of new threats.

In addition, Libération reported Oct. 28 that France may also examine the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review’s endorsement in January 2002 of low-yield, earth-penetrating nuclear weapons that could be used to destroy underground facilities housing weapons of mass destruction. (See ACT, April 2002.)

Security Council Struggles on Iraq; France Offers New Compromise

Howard Diamond

THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL remained deadlocked in June over competing strategies for restoring UN weapons inspections and monitoring activities in Iraq. In closed-door debates, Security Council members considered three resolutions, including a new French proposal, that seek to balance incentives for Iraq, in the form of sanctions relief, with continued insistence that Baghdad eliminate all of its proscribed weapons capabilities. Much of the Security Council has indicated its support for a proposal offered by Britain and the Netherlands that, despite several revisions, remains unacceptable to France, Russia and China.

The five permanent members of the council have long been divided about how to deal with Iraq, but have made little progress since the United States and Britain conducted a 70-hour bombing campaign against Iraq in mid-December 1998. Since the air and missile strikes, there have been no chemical, biological or missile inspections by the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) and no nuclear inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inside Iraq. Iraqi officials reiterated in June that Baghdad will not consider allowing international inspectors back into Iraq without prior relief from sanctions.

The differences between the current competing drafts focus on four aspects of sanctions relief: the timing for suspending sanctions; the degree to which sanctions would be lifted; the mechanism for restoring sanctions in the event of Iraqi non-compliance; and the control of the money from renewed Iraqi exports.

The latest British-Dutch plan would replace UNSCOM with a nearly identical successor called the UN Commission on Inspection and Monitoring (UNCIM), and would lift the ban on Iraqi exports—but not imports—120 days after UNCIM and IAEA reported they were receiving full cooperation from Iraq. Under this proposal, money from Iraqi exports would continue to be placed in a UN escrow account to be used for humanitarian purposes. Restrictions on exports by Iraq would be lifted for four months at a time and would require the Security Council to approve continued suspension. The British-Dutch draft would also specifically authorize Iraqi oil sales to Turkey, which have been a major source of illicit revenue for Iraq.

The United States has said it would support the British-Dutch resolution, which has been co-sponsored by Argentina and Slovenia and has also gathered support from other non-permanent members of the Security Council. Winning France's support appears to be the key challenge facing the British-Dutch plan because its vote would give the proposal a majority in the Security Council, allowing it to pass provided that Russia and China withheld their vetoes.

A competing Russian-Chinese-French draft proceeds on the basis that Iraq's disarmament obligations have been substantially fulfilled and would suspend the ban on both imports and exports to Iraq once UN inspectors returned to Iraq and established a reinforced ongoing monitoring and verification (OMV) system. Under the Russian-Chinese-French plan, Baghdad would control the revenues produced by trade. The draft would restore sanctions if the UN secretary-general reported a breakdown in the OMV system, but would otherwise require affirmative action by the Security Council to restore sanctions.

Introduced in late June, the French draft takes pieces from both the British-Dutch and the Russian-Chinese-French proposals in an attempt to bridge the strongly held differences among the five permanent members of the Security Council. Like the British-Dutch plan, the French plan calls for replacing UNSCOM with a virtually identical "Control Commission" that would have the same rights, assets and responsibilities that UNSCOM had. Like the trilateral plan, the French draft would suspend sanctions on Iraq following the establishment of an OMV system, restore them if the OMV system broke down, and require a vote by the Security Council to reimpose the sanctions otherwise. Absent a shift by one of the permanent five members, the Security Council is likely to remain deadlocked.

Britain, France Ratify CTB Treaty, Administration Looks to Senate

April 1998

By Craig Cerniello

In early April, Britain and France became the first of the five declared nuclear-weapon states to deposit their instruments of ratification for the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty. President Bill Clinton, who submitted the treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification last September, reiterated his call for Senate approval this year. It is uncertain, however, whether the administration will achieve this goal given Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms' unwillingness to schedule hearings. (See ACT, January/February 1998.)

British Ambassador to the United Nations Sir John Weston and France's ambassador, Alain Dejammet, jointly deposited their countries' instruments of ratification with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the depositary of the treaty, in an April 6 ceremony. As of the end of April, the CTB Treaty has been signed by 149 states and ratified by 13. The treaty will enter into force 180 days after 44 designated states have deposited their instruments of ratification. These 44 states include the five declared nuclear-weapon states, the three "threshold" states (India, Israel and Pakistan) and 36 other states that are participating members of the Conference on Disarmament and recognized by the International Atomic Energy Agency as possessing nuclear power and/or research reactors. Thus far, 41 of the 44 states have signed and six (Austria, Britain, France, Japan, Peru and Slovakia) have ratified. India, North Korea and Pakistan are the only three of the 44 states yet to sign the treaty.

In connection with Britain's ratification, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said, "The CTBT is a cornerstone of international efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation. Britain's ratification signals our commitment to the goal of a nuclear weapons free world.... I urge all countries which have not yet signed or ratified to do so whether or not they possess nuclear weapons."

In an April 6 statement, Clinton said, "I applaud this milestone in the global effort to reduce the nuclear threat and build a safer world.... The CTBT is in the best interests of the United States because its provisions will significantly further our nuclear nonproliferation and arms control objectives and strengthen international security."

The following day, John Holum, director of the arms control and disarmament agency and acting undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, urged the Senate to approve the CTB "before it goes home this fall." Holum said during his press briefing that the administration will continue to publicly make the case for the CTB—a treaty that he noted enjoys overwhelming public support.

Earlier in the month, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright emphasized the importance of U.S. action. In her April 2 remarks to the American Association of Newspaper Editors, she said, "Some senators may seek to delay the [CTB] Treaty's ratification, arguing that because of a handful of holdout nations, it will not enter into force any time soon. But it is precisely because some nations are resisting the treaty that our leadership in approving it is so important. We don't want to give the naysayers another excuse not to act; we want to turn up the heat. And the way to do that is for the United States to lead the way in ratifying the CTBT, just as we did last year in approving the Chemical Weapons Convention—which led, in turn, to ratification of that agreement by Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan."

Britain, France Ratify CTB Treaty, Administration Looks to Senate

Britain, France Propose EU Code of Conduct

European Union (EU) members began consideration of a proposed arms sales code of conduct within the EU Council of Ministers' working group COARM on February 17. The proposal, drafted by Britain and France, lists eight broad criteria which EU members should take into account when making arms export decisions.

Under the proposed code, members are expected to refuse an export request for military equipment or dual-use goods (when the end user is suspected to be the armed forces or internal security forces) if the request is "inconsistent" with international obligations such as arms embargos and treaty commitments and if there is a risk that the equipment might be used for "internal repression," prolonging an existing conflict, used "aggressively" against another country or re-exported to a third country. A requesting country's human rights record is to be considered, as well as economic factors such as external debt and economic and social development.

EU members are to inform all other members of an export denial and its underlying rationale. If another member decides to make an "essentially identical" export within three years of a refusal, that member must only notify and consult the state that issued the original refusal.

Although the code claims to have the aim of "setting high common standards for arms exports," the code would not be legally binding and the final export decision would remain a matter of national discretion.

French Defense Policy: Gaullism Meets the Post-Cold War World


Stanley R. Sloan

Stanley R. Sloan is the Senior Specialist in International Security Policy for the Congressional Research Service (CRS). He has followed European security issues for the executive and congressional branches of the U.S. government for some thirty years. His current work focuses primarily on issues related to NATO adaptation and enlargement. The views in this article are his own, and are not necessarily those of CRS or the Library of Congress.

French President Jacques Chirac, since his election victory in May 1995, has led the way toward fundamental reform of French defense policy. He has, among other things, conducted a "final" set of nuclear tests, removed one leg of France's strategic nuclear triad, decided to move toward smaller but more flexible professional military forces, and changed France's role in NATO. In the process, Chirac has incurred the wrath of both the Gaullists in the governing coalition and the opposition socialists. Do the Chirac reforms add up to a violation of Gaullist principles, as his domestic critics charge, or will they simply produce a Gaullist defense posture in disguise, as some Americans fear?

The End of the Cold War

The end of the Cold War raised fundamental issues for French defense policy, just as it did for the United States and other powers. The dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and disintegration of the Soviet Union removed the principal threat on which French defense strategy had been premised and against which French forces had been planned. But France was notably slow in adapting to the new circumstances. PostCold War realities did not easily penetrate the longheld Gaullist precepts of French independence, even as they were interpreted by the socialist leadership of President François Mitterrand. Furthermore, it can be argued that once Mitterrand was forced to enter "cohabitation" with a government formed by the opposition in 1993, policymaking on important issues became even more problematic. Nevertheless, as the other NATO members undertook the initial adjustments in strategy and planning to accommodate a changed international environment, Mitterrand began a cautious process of rapprochement with the United States and NATO. Mitterrand was encouraged to do so by the fact that the newlyelected American president, Bill Clinton, appeared more favorably inclined than the previous incumbent toward a stronger European role in the transAtlantic alliance.

The NATO summit meeting in January 1994, one year after Clinton had begun his first term, confirmed U.S. willingness to envision a degree of "Europeanization" of NATO. The summit communique yielded glowing references to the process of developing a "common foreign and security policy" in the European Union (EU) and creating a "european security and defense identity" (ESDI). Perhaps more importantly, the United States proposed creating Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) headquarters in NATO. CJTFs were designed to give NATO the ability to deploy multinational force packages appropriate to the "task" at hand. The first purpose of the highly adaptable CJTFs would be to facilitate transAtlantic military responses to nontraditional security challenges, like the one that was developing in Bosnia. A secondary purpose, however, and one that became primary in the eyes of Paris, would be to allow the European allies to take responsibility for CJTF operations in which the United States chose not to be directly involved.

In the spring of 1994, Mitterrand and many French analysts apparently interpreted the CJTF initiative as a sign that the United States was preparing to back away from its active leadership of NATO, leaving a vacuum that France could fill by leading its Western European colleagues into the breach. This analysis, as it happened, was flawed on two counts. First, the United States would not abandon its leadership position in NATO, even though some Americans supported doing so. Second, the other Europeans were still sufficiently suspicious of French motives and methods that they were not of one mind about placing all their bets on Europeanization. In addition, Germany's support for ESDI did not include a willingness to bankroll expensive European defense programs that would only duplicate NATO capabilities. As it became clear that France's policy was based on shifting sands, the CJTF concept languished in difficult internal NATO negotiations, while a dying French president decided that he would not allow the FranceNATO rapprochement to proceed any further on his watch.

Meanwhile, another factor was eating away at the foundations of a Cold Warbased French defense posture. In 199091, President George Bush had shaped an international coalition to oust Iraqi forces from their occupation of Kuwait. When France decided to join that coalition, it had two fundamental problems. First, when France joined the air war against Iraqi targets, French aircraft could not initially fly at the same time as U.S. and British aircraft because of incompatible friendorfoe identification systems that could have led to fratricide among allied forces. Second, France had great difficultly mobilizing ground forces capable of operating in the coalition. As Chirac subsequently observed in a February 1996 interview with the France2 Television Network, France's military was "heavy and excessive, and does not allow us to fulfill our missions.... You saw it during the Gulf War: we had trouble deploying 10,000 men." In addition, participation in the Gulf coalition convinced French officials that France's ability to conduct independent foreign and defense policies in the future would require possession of its own overhead intelligence capabilities. These Gulf War experiences made a profound impression not only on France's professional military leadership, but also on the strategic thinking of Jacques Chirac.

The Chirac Reforms

Soon after assuming the presidency, Chirac made some fundamental decisions about French defense which included elements of both continuity and change. Chirac would maintain France's independent nuclear capabilities, a key pillar of Gaullist defense policy. Further, France would continue to pursue the goal of developing a European security and defense identity, which had been a central focus of Mitterrand's defense and European policies, enshrined in the EU's Treaty of Maastricht.

But Chirac had obviously concluded that France could not afford a fully autonomous conventional defense posture given domestic social needs and the demands for reductions in government spending to meet the criteria for European monetary union. At the same time, it had become clear that divergent concepts concerning the organization of European defense cooperation and freefalling European defense budgets would not allow France to rely on a defense framework built primarily around European cooperation, as Mitterrand had hoped to do. Chirac's approach proceeded from the judgment that France needed to pursue its security goals with a new blend of autonomy, symbolized and operationalized primarily by independent strategic nuclear forces, and cooperation with its European partners and with the United States, within the framework of the transAtlantic alliance. The question was how to mold a combination of Gaullist philosophy, European unity goals, the requirements of transAtlantic cooperation, and pragmatic strategic and financial considerations into a coherent defense policy. Chirac's answer was provided in subsequent months, culminating in release of a defense reform program in February 1996.

Nuclear Forces: The Ultimate Guarantor

One of Chirac's first steps toward his reform goal was to announce a controversial 11-month nuclear testing program that met widespread opposition in and beyond Europe. In spite of those protests, France, in September 1995, began a series of what turned out to be six nuclear tests at France's testing site in the South Pacific, a move that had been rejected by Chirac's predecessor as unnecessary. Chirac and his advisors nonetheless judged that the tests were essential to complete testing of the TN75 warhead for the M45 submarinelaunched ballistic missile, and to enhance French data on the performance of French nuclear weapons that would support development of computersimulation capabilities for future maintenance of the warhead stockpile.1 When the tests were completed ahead of time in February 1996, France had taken substantial flak from antinuclear forces in the Pacific region and even from a number of Western European states, but claimed to have accomplished the objectives of the program.

Defending the tests in a June 1996 speech to the Institute for Advanced National Defense Studies (HEDN), Chirac said his "first duty" was to guarantee that France would have "a reliable, certain deterrent force for as long as our security demands it." In January 1996, he reported that "thanks to the excellent results of our last series of tests, I have been able to announce the final cessation as well as the closure of our experimental facilities in the Pacific." Chirac also proclaimed French support for negotiation of a "zero option" (zero nuclear yield threshold) Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the closure of the Pierrelatte and Marcoule factories where fissile material for military use had been produced.

The defense reform program, made public in February 1996 just as the nuclear test series had concluded, called for a major restructuring of French nuclear forces. Even though the strategic nuclear capability remained critical to future French defense independence, nuclear forces clearly were not as important as they had been during the Cold War, and the French capabilities could be rationalized to match the new strategic realities as well as fiscal constraints. Chirac therefore decided to eliminate the landbased leg of France's strategic nuclear triad. The 18 groundtoground strategic missiles deployed on the Plateau d'Albion, with a range of 5,600 kilometers and 1megaton warheads, were taken off alert September 16, 1996. They are being removed from their silos and dismantled at the rate of one per month, with the process scheduled to conclude in the summer of 1998.

In addition, France's 30 450kilometer range, groundtoground Hades missiles, put in storage by Mitterrand, were ordered dismantled. Given their limited range, the missiles could only have hit targets in Germany from launch sites in France. Since their original development they had been nothing more than a thorn in the side of France's relationship with Germany.

When the reform package is fully implemented, French strategic nuclear forces are supposed to include:

  • four (reduced from the current number of five) nuclear missilelaunching submarines (SNLE), Le Triumphant-class, each with 16 missiles with up to eight warheads apiece;
  • modern groundbased aircraft and seabased strike aircraft equipped with air-to-ground nuclear missiles;
  • new warheads for the nuclear submarine force and new longer-range AirSol Moyenne Portee (ASMP) airlaunched nuclear missiles for deployment on land- and carrier-based aircraft.

According to Chirac, the planned deployments are at levels "strictly calculated to guarantee" French security. Future financial constraints, however, could force further reductions in system numbers. Under these circumstances, and given the residual size of U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals, Chirac observed that the time had not yet arrived for France to participate in negotiations to reduce strategic nuclear arms.

The nuclear force reform package will allow France to remain a nuclear power, with forces that are capable of playing a deterrent role, under a variety of circumstances for some time into the future, at a reduced price. But the reform package did not answer many outstanding questions about the role of French nuclear forces and the strategy for their use. Such questions, however academic they might appear in today's threat circumstances, nonetheless suggest that both France and its NATO allies would benefit from closer consultations about nuclear strategy, whether France rejoins NATO's integrated command structure.

Given the emerging focus of French and NATO defense planning on new threats beyond Europe, one question concerns the role of nuclear weapons in deterring the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by nonEuropean states. Chirac has clearly envisioned such a role for France's nuclear weapons. In a February 23, 1996 speech to the Military Academy, he noted: "Other continents already possess nuclear and nonnuclear massive destruction weapons and we cannot exclude the fact that they may one day also affect our vital interests. In these conditions, nuclear deterrence remains an imperious necessity...." Given the fact that France will most likely be dealing with nonEuropean security challenges in the company of European and NATO allies, it may be difficult to escape the requirement for closer French consultation with NATO in the future on the nuclear implications of possible WMD threats.

The most important question about French nuclear strategy is what role its forces will play beyond their place in France's national deterrence strategy, and what this could mean for the process of European integration and France's role in NATO. France has recently engaged in a dialogue with Western Europe's other nuclear power, the United Kingdom, in the framework of the FrancoBritish Joint Nuclear Commission. When Chirac met with former British Prime Minister John Major in October 1995, Major supported the French nuclear testing decision and the two leaders announced further development of their cooperation in nuclear relationships.2 These discussions suggested that the door might be opening for some new approaches to "concerted deterrence." For some time now, France has suggested that it would consider the eventual possibility of extending nuclear deterrence to its EU partners. When Chirac repeated the offer to open discussions on the topic in December 1995, it was seen by many as a cynical attempt to wrap the French testing decision in the protective garb of European unity. But the issue remains an important one for future French and European defense policy.

The issue came to the fore again when it was made public early in 1997 that Chirac and Germany's chancellor, Helmut Kohl, meeting in Nuremberg, Germany, in December 1996, had agreed on a "Joint Concept for FrenchGerman Defense and Security." The text of the accord attempts to reconcile transAtlantic nuclear relationships (vital for Germany) and European considerations (key to France's approach). The leaders apparently agreed to give a "new impetus" to their security and defense cooperation "in both a European and Atlantic perspective." They specified that France and Germany "are ready to open a dialogue on the role of nuclear deterrence in the framework of European defense policy." When German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe, in a January 29, 1997 Munich ARD Television Network interview, trumpeted the fact that the two had also agreed that NATO's nuclear defense and strategic systems, "particularly those of the United States," are the "decisive systems for security," with the French and British systems in a supporting role, a political firestorm broke out in Paris.

The socialist opposition, already troubled by Chirac's moves toward rapprochement with NATO, challenged the accord as a violation of established French defense doctrine. The Socialist Party leader, Lionel Jospin, warned the National Assembly against the "NATOization" of Europe. Former Socialist Defense Minister and Socialist Party defense spokesman Paul Quiles argued in a February 10, 1997 interview with the Cologne Deutshlandfunk Network that Europe needs to develop an "autonomous" common foreign, defense and security policy. Carrying the point further, Quiles referred to NATO as an "empire" in which the United States has a hegemonic role and right of veto: "This is how NATO works because unanimity is required, that is, a right to veto operations that the Europeans want to carry out...." Meanwhile, oldline Gaullists in the governing coalition, including former Prime Minister and Defense Minister Pierre Messmer, grumbled that "Germany wishes to bring France back into the U.S. orbit, so that it will lose its nuclear autonomy."3

Reforming France's Non-Nuclear Forces

The Franco-German Nuremberg agreement caused a political furor not so much for what it said but because it is set against the backdrop of broader change in France's defense posture. While Chirac can credibly argue that changes in the nuclear posture are largely intended to preserve France's independence and autonomy, the changes in the conventional area explicitly accept the necessity of France's reliance on cooperation with its European and transAtlantic partners. During the Cold War, France had the luxury of counting on the United States, Germany and other allies to man the front lines against a Warsaw Pact attack. In a relatively static military environment, France could derive influence from its independent role while its security remained well ensured.

Today, with the SovietWarsaw Pact threat gone, the front lines have moved. If France does not participate in shaping responses to the new security challenges around the edges of Europe and beyond, French influence and claim to leadership in Europe will suffer. In Chirac's judgment, France's existing conventional forces were not wellsuited to the kind of challenges likely to arise in the future. And he knew that France could not deal with most of those challenges on its own.

Explaining his military reform package, Chirac has noted that a "strategy of action, which is based on autonomous and projectable conventional forces, reliable command capabilities, and diversified intelligence capabilities, is regaining new importance." He said the mission of French armed forces remains "to protect our national territory and the French people," but argued that "this mission is being carried out beyond our borders, sometimes on the sidelines of Europe, anywhere that crises and conflicts could become contagious and threaten our territory and our security interests."

And so, Chirac proposed professionalizing French armed forces, shrinking their size and making them much more capable of intervention beyond France's borders in coalitions with France's EuroAtlantic allies. According to Chirac, "By virtue of its mobility and availability, the professional army of tomorrow will enable us to respond better to our security requirements, but also to those of Europe and its collective defense within the framework of the alliance."

At the end of the process, Chirac hopes to have reduced French defense manpower from Cold War levels of around 500,000 to some 350,000, and to be able to deploy up to 30,000 troops abroad plus one further brigade in a separate location at any one time. This will require deployable forces of 50,000-60,000 to take into account rotation requirements. Under the plan, France will also have the ability to deploy around 100 combat aircraft from bases which can be relocated, and the ability to deploy a naval air force and a substantial submarine force. According to Chirac's explanation of the program in his February 1996 speech to the Military Academy, a reformed conventional structure should include:

  • an army reorganized around an armored force, an engineering force, a rapidreaction armored intervention force, and an assault infantry force (replacing the current nine divisions); and an armored capacity balanced between heavy and light resources, using Leclerc tanks in combination with new Tiger helicopters and supported by modern artillery;
  • a navy with a naval air group (which initially will not be able to operate on a permanent basis unless and until a second aircraft carrier is funded and built) and a reduced but modernized attack submarine force;
  • an air force focused on longrange deployment of power, organized around the new Rafale as its main fighter aircraft; air transport capabilities will remain relatively static.

Chirac projected the cost of the program at 185 billion (1995) French francs per year over the 1997-2002 reform period. This compares with approximately 240 billion francs spent in 1995 and a 1996 budget of around 190 billion francs.

With regard to conventional arms control, France is an active participant in the negotiations to adapt the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty to new European conditions. But even though NATO has proposed "significant" reduction in overall Alliance levels, France sees no need to reduce its national allocations under the treaty. According to Jacques Rummelhardt, the Foreign Ministry's spokesman, "France does not envisage going ahead with reductions, bearing in mind the importance of its international commitments and the small part its national assets represent in Europe."4 Nevertheless, the reductions in tanks and other treatylimited equipment envisioned in the army's reform program will leave France substantially under its current treaty limits.

Finally, in the belief that "no country is a major power if it lacks an efficient and competitive arms industry," Chirac called for a plan to modernize and restructure French defense industries. Faced with declining markets and intensified international competition, particularly from American manufacturers, Chirac is pursuing a strategy of privatization and rationalization, placing emphasis on two major industrial sectors: electronics and aeronautics. Companies in these sectors will, according to Chirac, receive special attention to improve their ability to compete internationally. According to the plan, the industrial strategy should be developed in close cooperation with France's EU partners. Most other aspects of Chirac's conventional modernization program imply greater reliance on closer cooperation with the United States, but this aspect emphasizes a mixture of national independence and European cooperation to deal with the U.S. challenge in the defense industrial sector.

With this reform program, Chirac seeks to provide pragmatic answers to the difficult challenges posed by the changed threat circumstances and the limits on financial resources available for defense. The program acknowledges that France cannot ensure its security interests acting alone. It also acknowledges that France cannot ensure its security interests acting only in concert with its European partners. This reality is at the heart of France's continuing rapprochement with NATO.

The Alliance's Influence

As noted above, after Chirac succeeded Mitterrand in May 1995, France started moving decisively toward an accommodation with NATO.5 In December 1995, the French government announced a partial return to participation in NATO military bodies and consultations. France made a full return to NATO's integrated command structure dependent on sufficient revamping of NATO to make it a "new NATO" that created political and operational space for realization of a European security and defense identity within the transAtlantic alliance.

The NATO allies, believing that France's return to full participation would facilitate a more rational organization of transAtlantic and European defense cooperation, attempted to accommodate French perspectives. Particularly for new, noncollective defense (nonArticle V) missions, Paris argued that there should be more intrusive political control over military operations. France wanted to shift more influence over NATO decisions from the U.S. Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and the Defense Planning Committee to the alliance's key political decisionmaking body, the North Atlantic Council. As a concession to these French concerns, allied defense ministers decided to reduce the role of the Defense Planning Committee and to handle most business with the French minister participating in meetings of the North Atlantic Council "in defense ministers session." Further, a "Policy Coordination Group" was established to help integrate NATO political objectives and military operations, as France had desired.

After some hard bargaining over the shape of a "new" NATO, a framework agreement was hammered out at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin in June 1996. The allies agreed that a European security and defense identity would be created within the framework of the transAtlantic alliance by opening the possibility for European officers in the NATO structure to wear a Western European Union (WEU) command "hat" as well as their NATO hat. It was also agreed that the NATO structure and assets could, with the agreement of all the allies, be made available for future military operations commanded by the Western European Union. Most importantly, it was agreed that the senior European officer who in the future holds the position of deputy SACEUR would also be the senior WEU commander and would assume control of a WEUrun military operation, should one be undertaken.6 After Berlin, French officials suggested that if such "multiplehatting" command arrangements and the assetsharing plan were implemented, France would return to full participation in NATO's command structure.

The task of adjusting NATO's command structure to the new circumstances is well under way. In 1994, the allies reduced NATO commands from three to two, eliminating the Allied Command Channel (ACCHAN), leaving only Allied Command Europe (ACEUR), headquartered in Mons, Belgium, and led by an American, General George Joulwan, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR); and Allied Command Atlantic (ACLANT), headquartered in Norfolk, VA, also led by an American, Marine General and Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) John Sheehan. Meanwhile, NATO's Military Committee has been conducting a longterm study aimed at further rationalizing NATO's command structure. The final package will specify the number, locations and procedures for CJTF commands as well as reorganize the command structure with the new provisions for an enhanced European role.

A major direction of the longterm study has been toward a reduction of the number of Major Subordinate Commands (MSCs) within Allied Command Europe (ACEUR) from three to two. Currently, ACEUR's three MSCs are Allied Forces North West Europe (AFNORTHWEST), commanded by a British fourstar general; Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT), commanded by a German fourstar general; and Allied Forces Southern Europe (AFSOUTH), commanded by an American fourstar admiral. Most allies have supported consolidating the North West and Central commands leaving two MSC's in ACEUR. Such a reduction, and other anticipated rationalizations, would lower the number of "flag" positions that will be available for national distribution in the new structure. This reduction in flag positions comes at a time when the number of allies in the command structure is increasing, with the potential integration of France and Spain and the likely enlargement of the alliance to include some Central and Eastern European nations.

The command allocation dilemma has been highlighted by the French desire, articulated following the Berlin meeting, to have a European officer take over from an American as commander of AFSOUTH. The logic of the French position was that, in the new structure, the United States will continue to control the positions of SACEUR and SACLANT. The two MSCs under SACEUR, according to the French view, should therefore go to European officers to make clear the increased European responsibility in the alliance. The United States has argued that the strategic importance of the Mediterranean and the critical role of the U.S. Sixth Fleet for Middle Eastern contingencies require that the United States keep the command. The French replied that the Mediterranean region is of particular importance to Europeans who are directly affected by developments there. Even with a European officer in charge of AFSOUTH, they pointed out, the Sixth Fleet would remain under U.S. command and available for Middle Eastern or other missions based on U.S. national decisions. Several allied governments initially supported the French position, but moderated their support when the United States made it clear that it was not prepared to give up command of AFSOUTH.

Allied officials now hope that some compromise package can be fashioned that will permit the reformadaptation package to be assembled and France to become a full participant in the integrated command structure. (Spain has already decided to join the new command structure, and final details on Spanish entry are being negotiated.) A compromise with France would likely include keeping AFSOUTH under U.S. leadership but specifying that this command, as well as others below the levels of SACEUR and SACLANT, is subject to rotation in the future. Another feature of the package, some have suggested, could include creation of a new Europeanled Mediterranean force projection command to demonstrate European responsibilities in the region.

As noted earlier, Chirac's defense spending and force posture decisions since coming to office suggest he has concluded that France cannot effectively ensure its future security interests except in cooperation with its allies, including the United States. A "new" NATO arguably provides the most effective framework for such cooperation. He faces opposition from Gaullists in his coalition and the opposition socialists to a return to full military cooperation in NATO. But not rejoining NATO would mean that France would not be able to take full advantage of the new alliance structures and procedures it helped to create. Following the news that a NATORussia summit might be held in Paris, according France a prominent role in NATO's evolution, some observers judged that Chirac would decide to accept a compromise on AFSOUTH and return France to full military cooperation in a "new" NATO.

One leading French defense commentator has noted the intimate political relationship between Chirac's defense reforms and the NATO participation issue. According to Daniel Vernet, "The very same people who are poised to denounce a betrayal' of Gaullism if the rapprochement with NATO goes ahead will censure the failure' of the political enterprise undertaken in December 1995 if NATO's reform fails to materialize." Vernet continues, "And the failure will have repercussions on the president's whole defense strategy, because the same arguments were used both to justify the return to NATO and to explain the restructuring of the French Armed Forces. Ultimately the consistency of his European options is at stake."7

Whether France returns to full NATO integration before the July 1997 Madrid NATO summit, Chirac's defense reforms, combined with geostrategic and fiscal realities, will bring France increasingly into the framework of transatlantic cooperation. Chirac's decision to call early parliamentary elections has added some potentially complicating aspects to the picture. If the governing centerright coalition had retained control of the National Assembly, Chirac would have had the political room required to proceed with implementation of his reforms and the rapprochement with NATO. The victory by the Socialists and their allies on the left, however, leaves Chirac with an uncomfortable cohabitation that will restrict his potential for maneuver. The Socialistled government will undoubtedly try to distinguish its approach from that of Chirac. But so far, the socialists have not developed any coherent alternative to Chirac's awkward but pragmatic synthesis of Gaullism, European unity, and transAtlantic cooperation.

Implications for the United States

These changes in French policy can be seen in different ways from Washington. On the one hand, Chirac's reforms are positioning France to be more capable of joining with the United States in efforts to preserve European and global stability. A more routine and reliable military relationship with France combined with more thoroughgoing political consultations in the NATO framework could reduce U.S.French misunderstandings about defense and arms control objectives. The United States clearly wants Europeans to carry more of the burden of maintaining global stability, and France's participation is key to a better burdensharing relationship. Without France, NATO's "European pillar" loses much of its military potential.

On the other hand, the U.S. desire for a larger European contribution to defense carries with it the requirement for more European influence in alliance decisionmaking. France has not been deeply involved in allied military decisions since leaving NATO's integrated command structure in the mid1960s. The difficult negotiations over control of the AFSOUTH command suggest that both France and the United States will have to make some adjustments in style and substance to ensure more effective working relationships in the future. A more integrated and assertive French voice in alliance councils could, on occasion, prove irksome and frustrating. French rhetoric about the need for European integration may occasionally run into contrary U.S. perceptions of what is required to ensure effective transAtlantic cooperation. On balance, however, a France that bases its defense policies on the goal of cooperation with its transAtlantic and European allies would likely be a better ally than one that is constantly striving to differentiate its approach from that of the United States.



1. When President Chirac originally announced the testing decision, he projected a total of eight underground tests between September 1995 and May 1996; presumably the international opposition to the tests as well as their purported technical success contributed to the reduction in number and shortened duration of the program.

2. Brown, Keven and Clark, Bruce, "UK Agrees NPact With France," Financial Times, October 31, 1995, p. 1.

3. Paris Match, interview with French Defense Minister Charles Millon, February 13, 1997, as reported by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Document number FBISWEU97027.

4. Paris Agence France Presse, February 21, 1997, as reported by Forieign Broadcast Information Service, Document number FBISWEU97036.

5. For an excellent analysis of France's developing relationship with NATO see: Grant, Robert. "France's New Relationship with NATO," Survival, vol.38, no.1, Spring 1996, pp.5880.

6.The broad concept for this reform and the Deputy SACEUR proposal in particular were originally laid out in Sloan, Stanley R. "NATO's Future: Beyond Collective Defense," published originally as a report to Congress and then by the National Defense University, Institute for National Strategic Studies McNair Paper Number 46, December 1995.

7. Vernet Daniel. "Jacques Chirac's European Dilemma," Le Monde, April 9, 1997, pp. 1, 14, as reported by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Document Number FBISWEU97069.


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