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France conducts rare simulation of nuclear deterrent strike

France carried out a rare simulation of a nuclear deterrent mission, its armed forces ministry said on Tuesday. The 11-hour mission, which included refueling, tested all phases of an attack mission involving a Rafale warplane, Reuters reports. It came at a time when the United States plans to exit a nuclear arms control pact with Russia. “These real strikes are scheduled in the life of the weapons’ system,” French Air Force spokesman Colonel Cyrille Duvivier said. “They are carried out at fairly regular intervals, but remain rare because the real missile, without its warhead, is fired.” The statement did not say when the test was carried out, and officials declined to say how often they take place. The mission comes as Paris looks to ensure its long-term nuclear dissuasion program, with Europe increasingly worried about security as tensions rise between Washington and Moscow.