French nuclear forces, 2019

By Hans M. Kristensen, Matt Korda | January 2, 2019

The French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle. Credit: US Navy via Wikimedia Commons. The French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle. Credit: US Navy via Wikimedia Commons.

Nuclear Notebook: How many nuclear weapons does France have?

France’s nuclear arsenal contains approximately 300 warheads, a number that has remained stable over the past decade. Nearly all of these warheads are deployed or operationally available for deployment on short notice. A small number of additional warheads are in maintenance.

Other than the United States, France is the most transparent of the nuclear-armed states, having disclosed details about its nuclear forces and operations for many years. The current force level is the result of adjustments made to France’s nuclear posture following former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s announcement on March 21, 2008 that the arsenal would be reduced to fewer than 300 warheads (Sarkozy 2008). Former President François Hollande reaffirmed this posture on February 19, 2015, when he declared that France had a stockpile of 300 warheads for “three sets of 16 submarine-based missiles and 54 ASMPA [air-launched] delivery systems,” which together provide France with both strategic and tactical nuclear capabilities (Hollande 2015)…

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The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists, and Matt Korda, a research associate with the project. The Nuclear Notebook column has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987.


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