Jun 20, 2020, 8:12 PM
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Iran voices concern over nuclear ballistic missile test by France

Tehran, June 20, IRNA - Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Saturday voiced concern over a test of a nuclear ballistic missile by France, terming it inconsistent with the country's commitments.  

The Iranian diplomat described the launch of a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying several nuclear warheads called M51 by the French Navy completely incompatible with Article 6 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and France’s commitment to nuclear disarmament treaty.

The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that the French government should not overlook its international obligations enshrined in Article 6 of the NPT and the NPT Review Conferences, he noted.

He urged Paris to fully comply with its international obligations in the field of nuclear disarmament.

He termed the nuclear weapons as a threat to international peace and security and said that testing such weapons would weaken the NPT.

On June 12, the French Ministry of Armed Forces announced on the launch of an M51 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), a Triomphant-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, from Le Téméraire.

“The nuclear-powered Le Téméraire successfully fired an M51 strategic ballistic missile off Finistère,” Defense Minister Florence  Parly announced on his Twitter account.

The launch was carried out  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.

The M51 also 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.

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