Telegraph, France is to change its military strategy and target its nuclear missiles at “rogue states” that have weapons of mass destruction, it has been reported.
The strategy will “take into account” China as a potential threat, according to the newspaper Liberation on Monday. It said the new doctrine, the fruit of several years of reflection by the defence ministry, will be announced in the next few weeks.
If confirmed, the move will overturn 40 years of French nuclear strategy founded on deterrence against declared nuclear powers and expose President Jacques Chirac to further attack from anti-nuclear protesters. He was condemned for briefly resuming French nuclear testing in the Pacific in 1996.
On Monday, the Elysee Palace said Mr Chirac's nuclear doctrine had not shifted since 2001 when he declared that France would “maintain the credibility of its nuclear deterrent in the face of all new threats”. At the time he said: “Our nuclear forces are not directed towards any country. We have always refused that nuclear arms can be considered as a battle weapon within military strategy.”
The new doctrine would reverse that by specifying particular targets and transforming France's defensive nuclear arms into an active threat against its enemies.
Liberation said the French military had been quietly revising its nuclear capability and developing new weapons.
The cost of maintaining France's nuclear capability absorbs 10 per cent of its