The 1956 Franco-British Suez operation revealed once and for all the dissent within the NATO alliance, between the American protector and the other member countries. The absence of American solidarity in this crisis revealed clearly that there could be very divergent interests. In France, the feeling of dependence on Americans was expressed no longer just in regard to defence, but also in regard to foreign policy. The French felt the American attitude to be a kind of vassalage to the extent that parliament affirmed the need to possess the nuclear bomb. Furthermore, the Soviet threat to launch missiles on London and Paris in response to the intervention which the USSR opposed gave added importance to the debate.
The French doctrine is a concept of " nonemployment " i.e. there is no question of using the nuclear weapon within the framework of a conflict which does not threaten vital interests. It is not a weapon intended for the battlefield. Contrary to the American doctrines which envisaged a graduated response then flexible, the French doctrines always refused to admit nuclear escalation.
One of the essential aspects of the strategy of nuclear dissuasion is its credibility, technical, human, and political.
Technical credibility : the potential adversary must have the certainty that whatever the suddenness and the intensity of its attack, it will not escape a nuclear response which will inflict damage innacceptables.Il to him belongs to the underwater component with its capacity of " striking as a second " (i.e. striking after an aggression), been useful by a system of transmission hardened and redundant to answer this requirement. The air component is the privileged instrument of the flexibility, the demonstrativity and diversity. More than the quantity, it is the quality of these two components which gives them their credibility.
Human credibility : it is clear that competence, the determination and the engagement of the people who implement the components of the strategic nuclear forces are an absolute need. These qualities must be recognized. They are it through the daily demonstration of the professionalism of the personnel of the whole of the forces armed in all their activities whatever their objectives.
Political credibility : the nuclear weapon is before a a whole political weapon. there is a very strong link between the President of the Republic and the nuclear weapon: " The centre piece of the strategy of dissuasion in France, it is the Head of the State, it is me " (Fran�ois Mitterrand, November 16, 1983). It is besides the President of the Republic in person which authorizes nuclear fire, without any intermediary between him and the carriers of the missiles. Political credibility is based on a certain number of gestures, declarations, decisions, which enabled him to be maintained intact with the passing of years.
The political weight that confers the nuclear weapon is to be brought closer to the policy of France in the world and its place like permanent member of the Security Council of UN.
France has reduced its arsenal by decreasing the volume of the maritime and air components and by withdrawing the ground-to-ground components (closing of the plate of Albion and disappearance of missiles HADES), and by closing several sites (center of experimentation of the Pacific, factories of Pierrelatte and Marcoule). The modernization of the nuclear forces continues however at adapted intervals so that the doctrines of French dissuasion remain in conformity with its permanent principles.