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French Nuclear Forces

Sarkozy says he wants to be more open about France’s nuclear arsenal “than anyone ever has been” about theirs. OK, does the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle still carry nuclear weapons in peacetime?

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By Hans M. Kristensen

The French nuclear weapons arsenal currently includes approximately 300 warheads, according to our latest estimate published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Roughly 80 percent of the warheads are for delivery by three ballistic missiles submarines. The remaining warheads are on cruise missiles for delivery by land- and sea-based strike aircraft. The total arsenal is expected to decrease further to some 290 warheads in the next few years.

Although President Nicolas Sarkozy declared in March 2008 that he had “decided that France could and should be more transparent with respect to its nuclear arsenal than anyone ever has been,” France remains the only European nuclear weapons state that has not yet declared whether its aircraft carrier still carries nuclear weapons under normal circumstances.

Background: French Nuclear Forces 2008