Commissariat à l'énergie atomique (CEA)
Atomic Energy Commission
Force Océanique Stratégique (FOST)
Strategic Oceanic Force
Forces Aériennes Stratégiques (FAS)
Strategic Air Command
As regards nuclear defense programs in particular, they are under the direct responsibility of the Nuclear Weapons Council, chaired by the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense. This council sees its decisions executed by the military nuclear committee and the CEMA. At the same time, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense lead the "joint work", the governing body of the Atomic Energy Committee.
There exists in the country a very strict separation between the responsibility for the manufacture of weapons, which is incumbent on a civilian body - the Commissariat for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies - Directorate of Military Applications (CEA - DAM) under the authority from the Director of Military Applications - the DAM - and the Armed Forces, from the FOST - CFAS strategic ocean forces component. The assembly and use of weapons are subject to very strict protocols involving the Gendarmerie for Nuclear Weapons Security (GSAN) which provides some of the government control. In addition, the nuclear weapons inspector (IAN) ensures strict control of these activities.
The cost of modernizing FOST over the next 15 years would be around EUR 29 billion, while that of the FAS would be of the order of 2.6 billion.
As regards the usefulness of the components, the permanence at sea offered by FOST has the enormous advantage of exempting the political authorities from taking a decision in the event of a crisis, such as that of sending a boat to the sea, a decision that is inevitably visible. and therefore, if necessary, to supply the voltage. But the main advantage of the submarine component is to assure the political power the absolute certainty of a possibility of second strike.
The existence of the air component allows on the contrary to give a visible sign of our political determination, if necessary by organizing demonstrative maneuvers, in support of the diplomatic maneuver during a crisis. The air component has versatile and complementary means of the first component. This component also allows for precision strikes on targets that could be centers of political or military power and decision-making, thus giving a "final warning". The use of this component can serve as a useful deterrent to bellicose, non-nuclear-weapon States.
With regard to operational requirements, deterrence is based on a principle of strict sufficiency defined on political and operational criteria. Reducing the format of the air component would no longer be able to cover operational requirements, and thus meet the political requirements. As far as the financial balance sheet is concerned, reducing the format of the air component would reduce the flow of appropriations needed to keep planes and weapons in operational condition, representing a gain of a few tens of millions of euros per year for a squadron, a hundred million if France removed the entire air component.
Since the 1970s, French industry has permanently conducted at least one civilian or military launcher development, which has allowed the maintenance of a world-leading know-how. The maintenance of launcher skills in France today faces a historic challenge with the concomitant end of Ariane V and M51 developments. This raises the crucial question, unanswered to this day, of the maintenance of French skills in this sector. In the absence of new short-term developments, French industry will lose its ability to design and develop the next generation of M51 and Ariane V launchers. The example of the current difficulties facing Russian industry is the confirmation of this.
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