THE FRENCH NUCLEAR ENERGY PROGRAM

Created: 1/28/1960

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

THE FRENCH NUCLEAR ENERGY PROGRAM

nuclear weapons programroad base ingoing back to prewar days and In reactorbut it lacked adequate government and public backing until the Suez crisis6 gave it an Impetus which De Gaulle's coming to power Plans for large-scaleproduction of electricity now may get less emphasis, both because of the growing availability of conventionaland because of the heavy stress on weapons as eans ofFrance's claim to "Treat-power status. The first French weaponsto begin in February near Zaouiet Reggane in the French Saharaexpected toeries ofshots.probably followed bytests later.

Although French scientists pioneered In the prewar

on which military and peaceful applications ofenergy are based,economic and political difficulties in Francecrippled initial efforts toational atomic

CURRENT INTELLIGENCEHMARY0

program. De Gaulle founded the Atomic Energy (CEA) In but little else was done until the approval2five-year plan" which led toargeproduction facilityrcoule.

The weapons program was longrawing-boardclosely guarded because of the emotional mood of French public and scientific opinion against nuclear weapons andof the security threat posed by hcavv Communistof theewamong them De Gaulle, publicly calledational nuclear weapons program.

The government went on record5 in favorpeaceful-uses-only" policy, but this was abandonedightist bloc successfully fought for a giving France aloophole as the price of accepting EURATOM.

"Peaceful Uses" Program

Seven research reactors at threeFontenay-aux-Roses, and Grenobleexperience In the operation of different types of reactors and training for technicians. ourth researchCadarache, near

house three advanced reactors. France also has extensive deposits of uranium ore.

In addition to thepower produced as aat the Marcoulethree natural uranium reactors designed primarily to produce electricity are being built near Chlnon by the French national electrical monopoly (EDF) in conjunction with the CEA. Reactorsnd -3 areto raise France's Installed electrical capacity of nuclear facilitiesegawatts Completion ofs expected near the end0 and oft the end Rumors thattill In the planning stages, will be canceled have been officially denied.

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France is eavy importer of electricity aiid future energy demands are projectedharply rising scale, EOF estimates thatpower reactorsercent of total energy needs Nuclear-source electricity costs now about twice as much as that from conventional facilities. Even if the EDF nuclearat Chinonthe production cost to approximately nine mills per kilowatt-hour, this figure would still not bewith the present thermal generator cost of five miles. Rapid exploitation of the oil and natural gasin the Sahara, now hydroelectric projects, and additional large thermalnow under construction will further lower the costs of conventionally produced electric power.

Nevertheless, the present high cost and low volume ofelectricity is justified primarily by the training and experience gained and by the officially expressed hope that nuclear power "some years fromill provide tho cure for France's energy deficit.

Weapons Program

French public acquiescenceational nuclear weapons program stems from the Suez fiasco, which helpedore nationalist viewpoint on many foreign and military policy issues. Althoughqualms were stillby Francis Perrin, the head of the CEA and one of France's ablestmilitary program was pursued thereafter with increasing vigor. ecent explanation of the nuclear program to the Senate by Deputy Premier Jacques Soustelle was enthusiastically received by all but themembers.

When De Gaulle took office ino gave new empha-

SEC

sis to tho entire nuclear energy program, andto tho preparations for nucloar weapons test. General Buchalet, chief of theapplications division of the CEA, told AmericanIn8 that De Gaulle regarded atomic anorgyrucial Issue of the same Importance for France as constitutional reform and Algeria.

Weapons Test and Plans

Tho recent delay in tho first French test has beendue to technicalproducing the proper Isotope ofproblems of weapons research and development, and aof trained personnel. The most recent postponements may have sprung from the desire to install test measuringof it purchased from Americanobtain maximum diagnostic data.

The initial testthe first shot of which will probr.blyoot tower shot yieldingikely to be followed by underground tests. Buchalet has stated that France, if it fails to receive US underground test instrumentation data, regardless of the cost, to acquire test measuringto make possiblemonitoring oftests. Aside from the technical information to be gained, underground tests might have the advantage of lessening international politicalto further French tests by removing the dangor offallout. They could also be closely tied to such peaceful uses as excavating harbors and exploiting deep petroleum deposits.

0 gaseous-diffusion plant now underat Pierrelatte could provide the base for annuclear weapons program. The plant is designed toenriched uranium for

CURRENT INTELLIGENCE WEEKLY SUMMARY0

reactor efficiency, aad Is expected to If expanded, It could produce4 tbe highlyuranium needed for nuclear weapons. statements by Du-jhalet and Francois de !toso, of atomic affairs ln the French Foreign Ministry, that France Is planning to develop hydrogen weapons suggestecision has already been made to expand theplant.

Foreign Policy

0 military budget ranks establishmentrench nuclear striking force second only to Algerian operations. Admission to the "nuclear club"ymbol ln French eyes of immediate pavi'y with the other nuclear powers. The visit of doviet Premierto France on IS March and De Gaulle's Insistence enthe East-West summit meeting until spring are both closely related to the timing off the French testing program.

De Gaulle may alsoenvisage completecontroletorrent that could be used in defense off Europe's lnterosts without dependence on Americanweapons. Adetorrent is seeneans of increaalng Europe's over-all power position and perhaps of enabling it to act as the mediator between East and West.

International Agreements

France's advancednuclear research and reactor

construction programeading role in theAtomic Energy AgencyURATOM, and the Center for European Nuclear Research (CERN). Paris has negotiated bilateral agreements with the Unltod States covering civil uses of atonic energy and the transfer of enriched uranlun for useand-basedsubmarine nuclearplant. Bilateralalso exist with Britain, India, Israel, Sweden, andlast covering Joint constructiono-actor ln each country.

West German and Italian

collaboration in the French atomic energy program islimited to nuclear research and the peaceful uses program, and any collaboration on weapons is vehemently

rrencn participaxionnuclear or militaryto be concentratedor small-groupin which Paris wouldthat itsnot be subordinated.in the weaponsbe welcome only ifa minimum of caveatsdevelopment of the

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