Tehran voices concern over French ballistic missile test

June 21, 2020 - 12:58

TEHRAN — Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi has voiced concern over France’s recent testing of a ballistic missile capable of carrying several nuclear warheads, saying it runs counter to France’s commitment to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

In a statement on Saturday, Mousavi said the French Navy’s launch of a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying several nuclear warheads (dubbed M51 missile) was totally in contravention of the spirit and the text of Article VI of the NPT and of France’s commitment to nuclear disarmament, the Foreign Ministry website reported.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran’s government expresses concern about such measure, believes that the French government must not ignore its international commitments under the Article VI of the NPT and declaration of the NPT Review Conferences, and calls on Paris to fully honor its international commitments to nuclear disarmament,” the spokesman said. 

He finally railed against development of nuclear weapons as a threat to international peace and security, noting that renovation and testing of such weapons would undermine the NPT as the cornerstone of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime.

According to Sputnik News, the French Ministry of Defense announced on June 12 that it had fired a ballistic missile across the Atlantic Ocean. The M51 submarine-launched missile (SLBM) was monitored by French and U.S. forces, and the test was hailed as a “success” and “essential to French nuclear deterrence” and sovereignty.

Le Téméraire is the second-oldest of France’s four Triomphant-class ballistic missile submarines, launched in 1998. Each of the subs can carry 16 SLBMs. In turn, the M51 carries a payload of between six and 10 multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) nuclear warheads, meaning each Triomphant boat could potentially deliver 160 separate nuclear strikes.

Defense Minister Florence Parly hailed the test in a statement on Twitter, saying its success “demonstrates our technological excellence and our attachment to French sovereignty. I congratulate all those whose commitment has made this test a success. Their involvement is essential to French nuclear deterrence and to our sovereignty.”

According to the Arms Control Association, a U.S.-based non-governmental group, Paris has 300 nuclear warheads available for use.

MH/PA

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