PEJOURNAL – Iran has voiced concern over a recent test-firing of an intercontinental nuclear-capable ballistic missile by France, saying the test is in clear violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and inconsistent with the European country’s commitments vis-à-vis nuclear disarmament.
“The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran expresses its concern over the move and believes that the French government should not overlook its international obligations enshrined in Article 6 of the NPT and the NPT Review Conferences,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Saturday.
He added that France must fully comply with its international obligations regarding nuclear disarmament.
The Iranian spokesperson emphasized that nuclear weapons pose a threat to global peace and security, and said testing such weapons would undermine the NPT as the basis for international non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament.
The French Ministry of Armed Forces announced on June 12 the launch of an M51 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from Le Téméraire, a Triomphant-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine.
“The nuclear-powered Le Téméraire successfully fired an M51 strategic ballistic missile off Finistère,” Defense Minister Florence Parly announced in a Twitter post.
The launch was carried out without a nuclear warhead off France’s Western coastal region of Brittany. The missile was tracked throughout its flight phase by radars and by the missile range instrumentation ship Monge (A601), landing several hundred kilometers away in the North Atlantic.
The M51 – which replaced the M45 in 2010 – weighs 52,000 kilograms with a 12-meter length and a diameter of 2.3 meters. Its operational range is reported to be 8,000 to 10,000 kilometers with a speed of Mach 25. The three-stage engine of the ballistic missile is directly derived from the solid propellant boosters of the European Ariane 5 space rocket.
Moreover, the M51 carries six to ten independently targetable (Multiple Independently targeted Reentry Vehicle) TN 75 thermonuclear warheads which, since 2015, have been replaced with the new Tête nucléaire océanique (TNO or oceanic nuclear warhead) warheads. The new warheads are reportedly maneuverable (Maneuverable Re-entry Vehicle) in order to avoid potential ballistic defenses.