İrem UZUN -TDO- French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday unveiled his nuclear doctrine advocating a more coordinated European Union defence strategy in which France, the bloc's only post-Brexit nuclear power, and its arsenal would hold a central role. In a much anticipated speech to military officers graduating in Paris, Macron called on EU member states to play a more direct role in halting a new nuclear arms race, saying they "cannot remain spectators" against a threat to the continent's collective security."In the absence of a legal framework, they could rapidly face a new race for conventional weapons, even nuclear weapons, on their own soil," said Macron.

Macron highlighted how France sees its nuclear weapons as a deterrent against attacks from belligerent foes, though he conceded France's nuclear might is diminished after its military scaled down its arsenal to less than 300 nuclear weapons. But the speech aimed to project strength, as Macron refused to sign any treaty at this stage to further reduce the French arsenal, announced an increase in military spending and positioned himself as the driving force for a united EU - using France's military clout to make his point.

His remarks come at a time when NATO allies, who would ordinarily look to the U.S. for help in a nuclear standoff, worry about Washington's retreat from the multilateral stage. This could create new tensions within NATO, where Macron ruffled feathers last year by saying the lack of US leadership is causing the "brain death" of the military alliance. Friday’s speech was perceived as Macron's long-running push for a stronger European defence, as U.S. President Donald Trump has pulled away from European allies and admonished them to pay more for their own protection.

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