November 2, 2010, The Sunday Morning Herald
France and Britain will sign on Tuesday a treaty that will see the two
countries test the safety of their nuclear arsenals in a joint facility
in France, the French presidency announced.
A nuclear simulation centre will be built at Valduc in eastern France,
about 45 kilometres northwest of the city of Dijon, and start operating
from 2014, the presidency said.
It will enable French and British scientists to model the performances
of nuclear materials to ensure the "viability, safety and security in
the long term of our nuclear arsenals," it said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas
Sarkozy will sign agreements in London on Tuesday for unprecedented
defence cooperation that will also include the creation of a joint
military force and sharing of aircraft carriers.
The Valduc laboratory will work with a French-British research centre
based in Aldermaston in southern England, the French presidency said.
Together the facilities would involve "several dozen" French and British
experts and cost both countries several million euros, it said.
The cooperation, described as unprecedented, would be conducted "in
total respect of the independence of deterrent powers of the two
countries," it said.
A British official said the joint facilities "will combine our
scientific and engineering talent, and maximise the mutual economic
benefit" while also promising considerable savings as expensive
equipment would be shared.
It did not mean however that the countries would share their nuclear
secrets, in part because the British and French have different warheads,
the official said.
"We will maintain our independent nuclear deterrent, there won’t be dual
keys on nukes. This is about experimentation and ensuring the safety and
security of our capabilities," the official said.
COMMENT BY ACDN