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France secretly upgrades capacity of nuclear arsenal
France has secretly modified its nuclear arsenal to increase the strike range and accuracy of its weapons. The move comes weeks after President Jacques Chirac warned that states which threatened the country could face the "ultimate warning" of a nuclear retaliation.
A military source quoted yesterday by the Libération newspaper claimed France had tinkered with its nuclear weapons to improve their strike capability and make this threat more credible.
The source said there had been two major changes: the bombs can now be fired at high altitude to create an "electromagnetic impulsion" to destroy the enemy's computer and communications systems; and the number of nuclear warheads has been reduced to increase the missiles' range and precision.
Libération speculates that while potential targets are "secret", it is clear they include the Middle East or Asia, and that its military contacts suggest the changes are aimed at adding "flexibility" to France's nuclear deterrent.