Declared French nuclear strategy rests today on the Gaullist doctrine of proportional deterrence elaborated more than two decades ago. Proportional deterrence doctrine states a weak state (France) can deter a strong state (USSR) when the weak nation possesses the capability to inflict enough damage on the strong one so that the value of the conquest of the weak country to the strong one is less than the value of the damage which the weak can inflict on the strong.
Hyland, John J. III
"French Nuclear Forces,"
Naval War College Review: Vol. 38
, Article 7.
Available at: http://digital-commons.usnwc.edu/nwc-review/vol38/iss4/7