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10 May 2010 - NPT - Main Committee II: Non-Proliferation - Statement by Mr. Eric Danon, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament

Unofficial translation

Mr. Chairman,

The French Delegation wishes to support fully the declaration made on behalf of the European Union.

Mr. Chairman,

The proliferation of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery is a threat to international peace and security; it also represents a threat to the concerned regions. It must be opposed resolutely.

In this context, we must take care to preserve the integrity of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Treaty has become almost universal, and it remains the legal cornerstone of our common nuclear security, and an essential tool for our collective security.

The serious crises of proliferation which we now face threaten the goals that we pursue with this Treaty are : non-proliferation, disarmament, promotion of civil nuclear energy, creation of a Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.

The fight against proliferation is thus vital for our collective security. It has three main issues, all of which we need to address during the course of our discussions: a resolute response to proliferation crises; strengthened international mechanisms for countering proliferation; increased substantive efforts to prevent and impede proliferation.

First issue: responding to proliferation crises. We currently face two major proliferation crises - those of Iran and the DPRK. Since our last Review Conference in 2005, they have worsened, year on year. They undermine the very rules of our collective security, of which the NPT is a cornerstone. Clearly, we cannot ignore them at this Conference.

The picture painted by the successive reports from the Director General of the IAEA regarding Iran is quite clear. In violation of its safeguards agreement, as the Board of Governors of the IAEA recognized as early as September 2005, in violation of five resolutions of the Security Council and ten resolutions of the Board of Governors of the IAEA, Iran continues to career onwards; it has not stopped accumulating low enriched uranium and has now begun enriching up to 20%. One cannot find any civil justification for this programme. Iran has refused generous offers of dialogue and cooperation from the Six. It is limiting its cooperation with the IAEA, including, as the Agency has stressed and as DG Amano has recalled at the opening of this Conference, with regard to activities which could have a nuclear military dimension. Iran’s behavior jeopardizes not only the security and stability of the whole region, but also challenges the whole non-proliferation regime; it calls therefore for the strongest response from the international community. Together with its partners in the Six, France is redoubling its efforts to find a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear problem, which will respond both to Iran’s needs and to the grave concerns of the international community. But Iran needs to understand that it can only become even further isolated if it continues down this path without responding to the demands of the IAEA and the UN Security Council.

Since the last Review Conference, the DPRK has carried out two nuclear tests. Further, it has also tested several ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The international community has unanimously condemned these serious infringements of peace and international security. The UN Security Council has adopted resolutions 1718 and 1874 to remind the DPRK of its obligations: the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of its nuclear programmes. The EU has strengthened its sanctions, in particular by introducing a stricter embargo on the DPRK and by heightened financial vigilance on North Korean organizations. We wanted to send a very clear message to Pyongyang: we will tolerate neither its headstrong nuclear ambitions, nor its nuclear proliferating cooperations with other countries, particularly in the Near and Middle East.

Other countries, too, are the subject to IAEA investigations, or under its scrutiny. We call on them to cooperate fully with the Agency, and to comply fully with their international obligations, so as to remove any doubt as to their present or past activities.

Mr. Chairman,

Second issue: strengthening the non-proliferation regime. To achieve this, we must, as a priority, support the efforts of the IAEA, which continues to play a key role in the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, to ensure that its safeguards system remains fully effective and credible.

To that end, we must, during the course of this conference, call for the universal application and strengthening of the IAEA’s safeguards system.

Whereas the Treaty has now become almost universal, the obligation posed by Article III on State parties to conclude a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement has not yet been fulfilled by all of them. To date 20 States have no comprehensive safeguards agreement in force; of these, 7 have not begun any discussions with the IAEA to this end.

Furthermore, as the successive Directors General of the Agency regularly remind us, without implementing the Additional Protocol, the IAEA cannot credibly fulfill its function. For only when this legal instrument is in force, in addition to a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, can the Agency draw substantiated conclusions regarding the absence of clandestine nuclear materials or activities and thus give the international community credible assurances that civil nuclear programmes have exclusively peaceful purposes.

To date, a wide majority of us, 131 countries have signed an Additional Protocol, and 98 States have an Additional Protocol in force. We hope they will be joined by all the others, since nuclear energy can thrive only when there is based on confidence.

Within the framework of Article III, the universal application of the system of Comprehensive Safeguards and the Additional Protocol remains a priority, and France invites all States which have not already done so to express their support for the non-proliferation regime in a concrete manner by implementing these legal instruments.

We must therefore strengthen IAEA safeguards, which will be to everyone’s benefit:

—  the application of a credible and effective safeguards system makes it possible to view the expansion of nuclear energy in the world with confidence. Without doubt, Article IV of the Treaty will be all the more widely applied, once the IAEA is in a position to offer credible assurances to countries, such as France, who wish to respond to requests for cooperation, that civil nuclear programmes being carried out by cooperating countries have exclusively peaceful purposes;

—  In contrast, France suggests that all civil nuclear cooperation with countries who do not comply with their obligations should be suspended: one cannot, on the one hand, request such cooperation, with the long-term partnership and the responsibility that that implies, and, on the other, renege on one’s international obligations. France will be staunch in defending the right of every State to have access to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. It will be just as staunch against those who violate the norms of collective security.

—  that is not all. The safeguards system is not simply an indispensable tool for non-proliferation and the development of peaceful uses; the Agency’s safeguards also contribute to strengthening nuclear security throughout the world and to the protecting all from the threat of nuclear terrorism, as highlighted by last month’s Washington Nuclear Security Summit.

In this context, France urges the international community, the IAEA and all States party to the Treaty, to remain committed to promoting safeguards. As far as France is concerned, let me remind you that all its civil installations, including its 58 reactors, are safeguarded by Euratom or the IAEA. I would like to underline, in particular, that the application of IAEA safeguards to the new French centrifuge enrichment plant, effective since 1 September 2009, can only contribute to strengthening the credibility of the safeguards system.

Furthermore, it is France’s intention to continue its efforts in support of the Agency, in particular its national Support Programme to IAEA Safeguards, by making available its skills and expertise and by promoting the development of technologies designed to detect any possible clandestine nuclear activity.

Mr. Chairman,

Past IAEA investigations have highlighted the existence of a vast international network operating in the illicit trading of sensitive technologies, which has not yet been fully brought to light.

This illustrates the need for rigorous and universal control of exports of the most sensitive nuclear technologies, equipment and materials, which is a condition essential to the development of nuclear trade, when a growing number of States are going to have industrial capacities in the nuclear field.

The Zangger Committee, whose role in implementing the provisions of Article III-2 of the NPT is recognized, must continue its activities, with a view to making the universal application of general principles for controlling exports universally applied. If the rules on export control must be strict and suited to the difficulties that they will face, they need to be consistent with other Treaty obligations. It is with this objective in view that France is participating in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which we consider to be an essential instrument for the promotion of a credible and balanced approach to export controls and which provides the necessary framework for the responsible development of nuclear power.

As far as the most sensitive technologies are concerned, in particular those related to enrichment and reprocessing: any transfer of such technologies should be evaluated according to a series of criteria aligned with the Treaty’s goals, including the Additional Protocol or equivalent safeguards. The goal would be to benefit those countries in effective need of the technologies, in a position to accommodate them and having sealed their long term commitment to non-proliferation. Equally important, when a supplier State is considering authorizing transfers for enrichment and reprocessing, that it must ensure the credibility of the recipient’s needs in line with its nuclear programme, and together take appropriate steps, in compliance with their IAEA obligations, to guarantee that these transfers cannot be diverted for non-peaceful and undeclared ends.

Third issue in fighting proliferation: reinforcing substantive efforts to prevent and impede proliferation. This has to be worked at every day. Exports need to be controlled more effectively, access to training in the most sensitive areas controlled, proliferation trafficking impeded, proliferation activities criminalized and their financing suppressed. France is strengthening its efforts in all these areas, as is the EU, with its action programme adopted in 2008, the "New lines for action in combating proliferation". The Conference should stress the importance of these concrete efforts.

At the same time we must strive to better implement Resolution 1540, both to strengthen our national measures and to help those countries that need to do the same. There again, France, working in concert with the EU, is increasing its efforts to actively support the implementation of this resolution, in particular by organizing regional seminars.

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to conclude by repeating the constant concerns of the international community about the risks of proliferation that could be caused by withdrawal from the Treaty, and to remind you of the French delegation’s position on this subject.

Let us be quite clear. Withdrawing from the Treaty is a right which cannot be interfered with. However, in order to guarantee the integrity of the Treaty and to sustain our efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation, it is vital to prevent any abuse of such withdrawals. That is why it is useful to debate, during the course of the Conference, the modalities and consequences of a withdrawal. It would be useful if we could agree on some important principles, such as that if a State were to withdraw, it would still remain responsible for any violations committed while being a Party to the Treaty.

In a similar manner, we consider that it would be unacceptable for a State, after having benefited from the provisions and co-operation provided by Article IV to acquire materials, installations and nuclear technology, thereafter to withdraw from the Treaty and use these for military purposes. We will need to consider these matters and the conclusions to be drawn. Resolution 1887, adopted unanimously by the Security Council on 24 September last, provides us with a concrete roadmap for this purpose.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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