In his acceptance speech of the Nobel Prize 2005, economist Thomas Schelling pointed out that the most important event of the last sixty years has been the non use of the nuclear weapon. He made emphasis on how important the nuclear matter was still at the beginning of this XXI century.
The President of the Republic had three good reasons to speak about the role of the French nuclear deterrent on Thursday: deterrence needs a strong and repeated public expression and time had gone by since the issue was discussed the last time: it’s important to maintain the legitimacy of the nuclear effort in the public opinion and the armies; it was necessary to clarify the ambiguities of the French strategic doctrine. This clarification confirms that nothing has changed: the doctrine is still exclusively oriented to the deterrence of any form of aggression against our «vital» interests which go beyond the national territory and whose limits were assessed by the President of the Republic. What changed was the expression of this doctrine. Recalling that deterrence was a life assurance aimed at preventing a bigger threat was useful.
With regard to regional powers, deterrence would not only be implemented, as we know since the speech given in June, 2001, on the power centres of the enemy but, and this is new, against their «capacity to act». This means that deterrence would be aimed at the leaders and their means of action. The French Head of State also warned that the countries, which would use terrorist groups to avoid deterrence could be punished and he made emphasis on the role deterrence has in our concept of defence. From now on, it’s the last expression of «prevention» and a necessary element in the management of a crisis: if France can intervene anywhere in the world it’s because it’s protected against the blackmail of a power that would like to prevent us from defending our interests.
We can regret that no progress was attained with regard to the Europeanization of deterrence, but the President expressed his firm belief on the inevitable character of the establishment of a common defence including deterrence.

Le Figaro (France)
Circulation: 350 000 copies. Property of Socpresse (founded by Robert Hersant, it is owned today by planes manufacturer Serge Dassault). This is the reference journal of the French right.

Les vertus de la dissuasion nucléaire française”, by Bruno Tertrais, Le Figaro, January 21, 2006.