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The Independent Online
France and the United States have agreed to share information on nuclear weapons technology under a pact that was secretly signed in Washington last month, diplomatic sources confirmed yesterday. The agreement will allow French and US scientists to swap important technical information to assist both countries in maintaining the effectiveness of their arsenals after the expected signing of a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty later this year.

Until now, only Britain has had a formalised agreement with the US on atomic and nuclear affairs. British sources said the American agreement with France was important, but would "never be as profound or as culturally bound as our own with America". The agreement marks a change of tack for France, which until the end of Francois Mitterrand's government, used to defend fiercely the independence of its nuclear deterrent. David Usborne - New York