Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 392–404 | Cite as

Revisiting France’s nuclear exception after its ‘return’ to NATO

  • Stéfanie von HlatkyEmail author


In 2009, President Nicolas Sarkozy decided that France should return to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO) integrated military structure, which it had left in 1966. Sarkozy also restated the complete independence of the French arsenal, the policy of non-participation in NATO’s nuclear mission: the nuclear exception. This article takes the view that this policy of nuclear exception is outdated and potentially damaging to French interests within NATO. This is so under two scenarios: (1) As long as American non-strategic nuclear weapons (NSNW) are on European soil, NATO’s nuclear posture will evolve without official French input. (2) If these nuclear weapons were to be removed from Europe, France would stand as the predominant nuclear power among the European Union states. Since the consequences of removal would impact French interests directly, it seems unwise for Paris to opt out of this debate.


France nuclear deterrence NATO alliances defence policy 


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Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political StudiesQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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