Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
French Nuclear Diplomacy

French Nuclear Diplomacy

Copyright Date: 1971
Pages: 430
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    French Nuclear Diplomacy
    Book Description:

    Wilfred Kohl analyzes the development of France's atomic force, focusing on the role of nuclear weapons in de Gaulle's policies and its impact on French relations with NATO, her key alliance partners (the United States, Great Britain, and West Germany), and the U.S.S.R. He emphasizes the discontinuity between de Gaulle's grandiose designs and the more modest programs envisaged by cither the preceding governments of the Fourth Republic or the succeeding Pompidou government.

    Originally published in 1972.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6988-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    Charles de Gaulle’spolitique de grandeurwas characterized by actions of boldness and defiance in the international arena. Among his many controversial policies, the decision to develop a French nuclear deterrent was perhaps most symbolic of the general’s determination to achieve an independent role for France in world politics. Inspired more by political considerations than by concern for military security, theforce de frappebecame the mainstay of Gaullist foreign policies in the West, as well as toward the East. Yet the original French decision to produce atomic weapons was not de Gaulle’s. It was made before his return to...

  5. One The Background

    • 1. The Nuclear Program of the Fourth Republic
      (pp. 15-47)

      A few months after his return to power in 1958, General Charles de Gaulle declared in one of his first press conferences: “Everybody knows that we now have the means of providing ourselves with nuclear weapons and the day is approaching when we, in our turn, will carry out tests.” He went on to indicate that, while the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain possessed atomic arms, “France will not accept a position of chronic and overwhelming inferiority.” The message was clear—that France would soon become an atomic power and would then have “all the greater means...

      (pp. 48-81)

      On May 13, 1958, a demonstration in Algiers unleashed events which brought about the downfall of the Fourth Republic, as Algerian settlers and certain military officers conspired against the government in Paris to keep Algeria French. After two weeks of political turbulence, General de Gaulle was installed as prime minister of an interim government on June 1. To him fell the task of designing a new constitution and constructing a new republic.

      Although faced with the enormous problems of restructuring France’s political system and settling the Algerian conflict, de Gaulle found time almost immediately after his return to power to...

    • 3. The Genesis of the Gaullist Force de frappe and France’s Entry into the Nuclear Club
      (pp. 82-120)

      French atomic development was accelerated from the autumn of 1958 to the end of 1960 under General de Gaulle’s leadership, and culminated in the first atomic tests. In an historic speech in 1959, the French president unveiled plans for theforce de frappe,a controversial political-military project finally passed into law a year later by the French parliament after much heated debate and the failure of several censure motions. Meanwhile, the area of Franco-American political disagreement widened as de Gaulle made several unsuccessful attempts to gain American acceptance of his 1958 tripartite plan. These differences were further exacerbated by the...

  6. TWO The Force de Dissuasion:: Its Rationale and Evolution

      (pp. 123-177)

      Two basically contradictory visions motivated General de Gaulle’s foreign and security policies.¹ The first vision stemmed from the Gaullist perception of the international system as an unstable system, dominated by the two superpowers. As a consequence, the general sought to change that system into another that would provide a more stable world balance. His efforts were directed primarily at transforming the existing state system in Europe and encouraging the emergence of a new Europe which would act as a third world power. According to his second vision, de Gaulle was determined that France be recognized once again as a great...

    • 5. The Technology and Economics of the French Nuclear Force
      (pp. 178-204)

      The development of the French nuclear force since 1960 has been based upon three budgetarylois de programme,or program laws, which set forth plans for the modernization of all France’s armed forces. The first law, covering the period 1960-64, laid the foundation for the first-generation nuclear weapons system—atomic bombs carried by Mirage IV aircraft. It also provided initial funding for France’s first atomic submarine, for research and development of missiles, and for construction of the Pierrelatte isotope separation plant. Military program goals and outlays for the period 1965-70 were defined in a second program law. Although not all...

  7. THREE France and Her Allies:: The International Implications of Gaullist Strategy

    • 6. The French Nuclear Force, NATO, and Franco-American Relations
      (pp. 207-266)

      De Gaulle’s nuclear policy undoubtedly had a greater impact on France’s allies than on her enemies. In the 1960’s France’s relations with the West were greatly exacerbated by nuclear questions. Yet these differences had more fundamental causes. They were deeply rooted in de Gaulle’s foreign policy objectives and the political conflicts generated when these objectives clashed with the goals of allied states. In the Franco-American case, the seeds of discord lay in contradictory French and American visions of the future orientation of Europe and the role of arms control in East-West relations and world order. Since French disagreements with NATO...

    • 7. The French Nuclear Force and Franco-German Relations
      (pp. 267-317)

      In de Gaulle’s design for an enhanced European role in world politics, France occupied a special place; the general was determined that his country not lose her leadership to Germany. Development of a nuclear force was, in part, adjudged an effective way to ensure that the Federal Republic would remain a second-rank European power subordinate to France. Fear of revived German militarism was not de Gaulle’s primary concern.¹ Rather, it was the political consequences of West Germany’s growing economic strength that he felt the need to counterbalance. Since the Bonn Republic had renounced the right to manufacture atomic weapons in...

    • 8. Nuclear Issues in Franco-British Relations
      (pp. 318-354)

      At the start of the 1960’s Great Britain persisted, with diminishing success, in trying to wield her power and influence in three major spheres, as she had done since the war. Britain saw herself as a global power with troop deployments and obligations in far-flung Commonwealth countries of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. At the same time, she sought to be a major European power and to maintain her “special relationship” with the United States. Unlike France, which had almost completed the process of disengagement from earlier colonial commitments, Britain did not yet consider Europe as the center of...

    • 9. Conclusion and Prospects
      (pp. 355-384)

      In his last memoirs, de Gaulle clearly revealed what his objectives were for France when he returned to power in 1958. A West European confederation was among his primary goals. Beyond that, he explained his other aims as follows:

      My design consisted . . . in disengaging France, not from the Atlantic Alliance, which I intended to maintain as an ultimate precaution, but from the integration realized by NATO under American command; in forging with each of the states of the Eastern bloc, and first with Russia, relations aimed at détente, then at entente and cooperation; in doing the same,...

  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 385-402)
  9. Index
    (pp. 403-412)