Russia expressed "deep regret" yesterday over France’s nuclear test in the Pacific. A Foreign Ministry statement said: "Such actions do not further the strengthening of the regime of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the creation of a favorable atmosphere for a speedy completion of work on a general test ban treaty." Meanwhile, in a separate report, the Russian atomic energy ministry expressed concern at media reports saying France has been passing information on the results of its nuclear tests on Muroroa Atoll to the United States and Britain. Senior ministry spokesman Georgi Kaurov told Interfax that reports of a secret deal to this end between France, the US and Britain emerged a few days ago. He said the ministry was particularly concerned that French nuclear tests may be aimed at developing new nuclear warheads which could later be targeted at Russia. (5)
France’s nuclear blast in the South Pacific was probably intended to check a new warhead for the next generation of missile-firing submarines. As Mr. Kaurov surely knows, the targeting of France’s nuclear deterrent is hardly a "secret. " The very effectiveness of the French deterrent depends upon other states’ certain knowledge that operational missiles are targeted "a tous azimuths," i.e., at whichever nation would threaten France with nuclear attack. Nor, as Kaurov also presumably knows, is sharing of test data all that nefarious (if it does take place). Pooling test data means fewer live shots because it reduces the need for other states to test. In his recent UN address, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev repeated Russia’s previous calls for an international moratorium on nuclear tests until a formal test ban treaty is completed next year.
Russian Non-Proliferation Official Denies Nuclear Smuggling from Russia.