For whom has France's doomsday clock just clicked 2 minutes?
Friday February 10, 2006 Guardian Unlimited - Paris
France secretly upgrades capacity of submarine nuclear arsenal
· Modification increases range of missiles
· Altitude bomb to knock out electronic systems (EMP effect)
During a speech made in January, President Chirac said: "The number of nuclear warheads has been reduced in certain of the missiles in our submarines".
Military experts say this was not a step towards disarmament, but was instead a move to expand M45 missile performance. Until now each submarine carried 16 French-made M45 missiles, each fitted with six nuclear warheads.
Scaleback to only one warhead per missile obviously reduces throw weight but allows higher altitudes needed for electromagnetic pulse effect (to destroy enemy computer and communications systems), and increased missile range and precision.
France operates four SSBNs in two classes: two Triomphant class and two L’Inflexible class.
In a related story, Gus Van Horn asks Is the "Doomsday Clock" stuck? He says: That famous symbol of the Cold War, the Doomsday Clock (of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists) appears to have become stuck at seven minutes to midnight since some time in March or April of 2002.
For whom has France's doomsday clock just clicked, then? Every peace-loving country in the world is becoming inoculated against certain violent extremists. They can hardly help from defeating themselves.