of France's last nuclear test
On 27 January 1996, the last nuclear test explosion by France was conducted at the Moruroa and Fangataufa Atoll test site in the South Pacific.
The underground explosion was equivalent to 120,000 tonnes of conventional explosives, six times the force of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
It was the sixth in what was to have been a series of eight tests announced in June 1995 by French President Jacques Chirac. The testing broke a three year moratorium by France and resulted in international protests and the boycott of French goods.
On 28 January 1996, President Chirac announced that France would no longer test nuclear weapons
From 1960 to 1996, France exploded 210 weapons at its test sites in Algeria and the South Pacific. In all, between July 1945 and September 1996 when the Comprehensive Nuclear-test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) opened for signature, a total of 2,047 bombs had been exploded in over 60 different locations worldwide – the vast majority of them by United States and the Soviet Union.
In 1991, the Soviet Union declared a moratorium on testing. It was also the year of Britain’s last test. The United States declared a moratorium that included Britain in 1992. China conducted its last test in July 1996. A handful of tests have been carried out since 1996 – by India and Pakistan in 1998 and by the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK) in 2006 and 2009.
Spiking the bomb
On 24 September 1996, France was among the first of 71 States, including its four fellow nuclear weapon States, Britain, China, Russia and the United States, to sign the CTBT when it opened for signature. The act fulfilled a pledge made by Chirac before France’s last round of tests.
Subsequently France closed and dismantled its test sites and its fissile material production facilities – to date the only nuclear weapon State to have done so.
It quickly became one of the most active Member States of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban-Treaty Organization (CTBTO), the independent body mandated to erect a verifiable legal barrier against all nuclear explosions and bring the Treaty into force.
First nuclear weapon State to ratify Treaty
In April 1998 with Britain, France was the first of the nuclear weapon States to ratify the Treaty.
France also cooperates with the CTBTO at the technical level, currently hosting 17 of the Treaty’s 337 International Monitoring System (IMS) facilities. With 80 per cent fully established, the global verification system is approaching completion. At present 13 of the French facilities are certified, two are under construction and a further two stations are planned.
In November 2010, France became the seventh country to sign an agreement with the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) to receive tsunami warning data.
France and Morocco jointly chair the process on Facilitating the Entry Into Force of the Treaty. China, the DPRK, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States, are the last of nine countries from 44 without whose ratification the Treaty cannot enter into force.