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Friday, February 10, 2006

France Secretly Improves Its Nuclear Arsenal


From The Guardian:


France has secretly modified its nuclear arsenal to increase the strike range and accuracy of its weapons. The move comes weeks after President Jacques Chirac warned that states which threatened the country could face the "ultimate warning" of a nuclear retaliation.

A military source quoted yesterday by the Libération newspaper claimed France had tinkered with its nuclear weapons to improve their strike capability and make this threat more credible.

The source said there had been two major changes: the bombs can now be fired at high altitude to create an "electromagnetic impulsion" to destroy the enemy's computer and communications systems; and the number of nuclear warheads has been reduced to increase the missiles' range and precision.

During his surprise speech, which was made in January, President Chirac said: "The number of nuclear warheads has been reduced in certain of the missiles in our submarines".

Military experts said this was not a step towards disarmament, but a move to improve the performance of the weapons. Until now each submarine carried 16 French-made M45 missiles, each fitted with six nuclear warheads. After being fired, each warhead would separate to hit a different target, in effect giving each submarine 96 nuclear bombs.

In reducing the number of warheads, down to one per missile in some cases, the weapon is lighter and has a longer range. It can also be targeted more accurately.

Libération speculates that while potential targets are "secret", it is clear they include the Middle East or Asia, and that its military contacts suggest the changes are aimed at adding "flexibility" to France's nuclear deterrent.

"These evolutions are aimed at better taking into account the psychology of the enemy," defence minister Michèle Alliot-Marie said after President Chirac's warning in January.

In a speech to MPs, she added: "A potential enemy may think that France, given its principles, might hesitate to use the entire force of its nuclear arsenal against civilian populations.

"Our country has modified its capacity for action and from now on has the possibility to target the control centres of an eventual enemy."

French government sources said the president's speech, given at a nuclear submarine base in Brittany, was not targeted specifically at Iran - despite Tehran's decision to continue its nuclear programme - or at individual terrorist organisations, but at countries that posed a direct threat to France itself.

The paper says according to its information "ultimate warning" could take two new forms.

The most demonstrative would be to fire a relatively weak warhead into a deserted zone far from centres of power and habitation. The more radical option would be to explode a bomb at an extremely high altitude with the aim of creating a brief but enormously strong electromagnetic field which would disable or destroy all non-protected electronic systems in the area.


There sure has been a lot of talk of using nuclear weapons lately. Now, what would that be in response to?
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10 Comments:

Blogger Christine said...

I know what you mean. Nuclear weapons weresomething I attributed to the Soviet Union. Seems they have come back into vogue all of a sudden.

How was the world suppose to end?

Friday, February 10, 2006 4:06:00 am  
Blogger von Schlichtningen said...

If any Muslim terrorist gets hold of a weapon of mass destruction. He will use it.

There is no limit on the size of atrocities.

With countries like Iran trying to get nuclear weapon capability the world is getting scary. Iranian missiles have the range to reach Europe.

And will nuclear deterrence work against a country like Iran?

Friday, February 10, 2006 4:34:00 am  
Blogger Pastorius said...

When it comes to a nuclear Iran, I'm not so worried about Europe, as I am about the U.S. We are the Great Satan, you know.

I believe they will hit us and Israel.

Hope I am wrong. And, I hope they don't hit you guys.

Any nuclear weapon used, by any nation, will change the entire world. I doubt things would ever be the same after that.

It would be the end of modern civlization.

So, yes, you are right, we have to be worried about people who are already living in a backward civilization.

Friday, February 10, 2006 4:48:00 am  
Blogger Christine said...

I am honestly worried about the people in ME who truly are not enemy. Those that are just trying to survive. Iraq is just trying to get on it's feet and this could really set them back much further.

The affects of a nuclear bomb go practically into infinity. Places that are hit are unliveable, the long term affects on the environment, the illness that doesn't kill, ect. Regular bombs kills people and destroy property. Nuclear bombs kills civilization.

I don't believe nuclear deterrance will work against Iran. That deterrance is there now and it hasn't stop them. They have become more and more emboldened by the minute.

This just doesn't feel good at all. My gut is in a knot for the first time in my life. My instincts are screaming bloody murder. I just hope that President Bush will be willing to "step all over" the crowd in the US who seems bent on our destruction, if the time comes it is needed.

Friday, February 10, 2006 5:39:00 am  
Blogger Pastorius said...

I'm with you, Christine. I'm actually glad to hear that you say, your gut is in a knot for the first time in your life, because, mine is too, although, I admit, this is not my first time.

;-)

Friday, February 10, 2006 5:43:00 am  
Blogger von Schlichtningen said...

I truly believe it can not be permitted for Iran to gain nuclear weapon capability.

Israel could not permit it. And it would be too dangerous for the US and Europe to allow it.

I grew up during the cold war Denmark. I was a professional in the armed forces and we had one enemy: The USSR and its vassal states. We trained with NATO forces time after time and we took the threat seriously. But also we and our adversaries knew that nuclear war was simply not a solution. In Denmark we thought a war would last all of 20 minutes. Thereafter Denmark would have no real military capabilities after several strikes by nuclear bombs. In fact Denmark would practically be gone. Pure madness and that even not considering the doomsday weapons.

But we, thank God, had a rational enemy. The button was never pressed.

Now imagine a Hitler "enhanced" by religious madness. Give him a button and wait for next time he throws a fit?

Sometimes I miss the safer world of the USSR and the cold war.

I think France does also. That is why the French president is warning now.

Friday, February 10, 2006 6:22:00 am  
Blogger Pastorius said...

I agree Von Schlict. I hope the West gets serious and does not leave this to Israel. That would be very unfair.

Friday, February 10, 2006 2:22:00 pm  
Blogger JMJ said...

Pastorius,
Why would it be unfair to leave it to Israel?

Because it would be would really stretch Israel's capability? If they are even capable to doing it all on their own. I understand it would be quite an undertaking. Or unfair how? I think the support in the US (even at the quoted 57% approval rating) would still be tenuous at best. Especially because it won't be over after the attack and counterattack. And the uproar as it drags on will make Iraq look miniscule in comparison.

Hopefully, some rationale minds will prevail as far as a deterent but with the new Iranian prez as well as now Hamas in power, things do not look good. Just to be clear, I also DO NOT think we can tolerate Iran having nuclear weapans either. All the options are indeed very poor!

Friday, February 10, 2006 3:00:00 pm  
Blogger Pastorius said...

Why would it be unfair to Israel?

Because,

1) It is our problem as much as it is Israel's problem

2) because we have veto power, and a lot of other power in the UN, and we have not gotten anything done in the over two years that this "crisis" has drug on. Israel does not have any power in the UN.

3) because it would be a stretch for Israel militarily, and because the fallout (literally and figuratively) would be much worse for Israel. The reality is, if Israel does the attack, the whole Arab world will attack Israel.

Why did you ask?

Friday, February 10, 2006 5:02:00 pm  
Blogger JMJ said...

"Why did you ask?"

Because I am concerned about the (short term and long term) will of the American people to go to war after Iraq.

I think we would have a better chance with another president in 2008. I am not sure we can wait this long though. If Bush goes into Iran, then I am afraid of a potential split that it will cause in the US.

1) True

2) I think if Israel did Iran, this would not mean we would not support Israel in the UN.

3) I agree. I just think if Iraq had been done better as well as more of a well deliniated success, I think people would be more willing to do what is necessary. I think the uproar in the US would be much greater than polls suggest. Especially if after one year, we are then stuck fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. We will definitley look imperialistic. And at that point, we may just NEED to be in order to fix all this once and for all.

Scary stuff! And the worst part is I don't see any good alternatives to any scenario.

Saturday, February 11, 2006 2:29:00 am  

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