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2 May 2014 - Third Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference - Statement by Mr. Jean-Hugues Simon-Michel, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament

Mr. Chairman,

France fully supports the speech delivered on this chapter on behalf of the European Union.

I would like to add some further remarks in a national capacity.

France, as a nuclear-weapon State, fully assumes its responsibilities with regard to disarmament.

Firstly, France maintains an active dialogue with the other nuclear-weapon States.

Following the conferences in Paris in 2011, Washington in 2012 and Geneva last year, the conference held in Beijing two weeks ago demonstrates our commitment to work tirelessly to fully meet our commitments by 2015. These conferences allow fruitful exchanges, without taboos, necessary to strengthen mutual trust and move forward on disarmament.

In Beijing, we had useful discussions on the content of national reports reflecting the results of our actions and progress to meet our commitments. We have agreed on a common framework, the same for all the Nuclear-Weapon States, to present our national reports. They report not only measures of disarmament, but also actions taken with respect to non-proliferation and peaceful uses, in accordance with Actions 5, 20 and 21 of the Action Plan of the 2010 Review Conference.

We recorded also new results on the issue of nuclear-weapon-free zones. Next week, I will have the great honour of signing the Protocol to the Treaty of Semipalatinsk on the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia, together with the other P5 States, after two years of discussions. Moreover, in September 2012 we signed parallel declarations with Mongolia on its nuclear-weapon-free status. We are ready to sign the Protocol to the Bangkok Treaty on the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Southeast Asia as soon as possible.

These Protocols will complement those already granting negative security assurances given by France to almost 100 States. In addition, France recalls that all non-nuclear-weapon States Parties to the NPT respecting their non-proliferation obligations already have the negative security assurances given by France in the statement annexed to resolution 984. France considers these commitments to be legally binding.

The organization, in 2012, of a conference on a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction was one of the significant commitments contained in the Final Document of 2010. Its postponement was a disappointment. However, the meetings in Glion, which were attended by all of the main stakeholders in the region, were encouraging. We would like to reiterate our confidence to the facilitator, Jaakko Laajava, who works tirelessly for the Helsinki conference to be held as soon as possible.

Mr Chairman,

I would now like to recall the progress made by France in recent years.

We have met the target, announced in 2008, of reducing the air component of our deterrence force by one third.

This is the latest addition to a considerable list of achievements.

- We have completely dismantled the ground-to-ground component of our deterrent and reduced the submarine and air components by one third. In total, France has unilaterally reduced its arsenal by half over the last 20 years or so. It now has fewer than 300 nuclear warheads. It does not hold any non-deployed weapons. All of its weapons are operational and deployed.

- We have reduced alert levels twice. These alert level reductions concerned both force response times and the number of weapon systems. We no longer have any targeted weapons. We no longer have any weapons on high-alert status.

- We were the first State to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, along with the United Kingdom, and to dismantle our nuclear test site.

- We unilaterally dismantled the facilities for the production of fissile material for weapon purposes, at a cost which already amounts to €6 billion. We had already stopped producing plutonium for weapon-use in 1992 and we had taken a similar decision in 1996 regarding highly enriched uranium. This is an irreversible step.

France has never participated in a nuclear arms race of any kind. It applies the principle of strict sufficiency, i.e. it maintains its arsenal at the lowest possible level compatible with the strategic context. The French deterrence is strictly defensive. Since it may only be used in extreme circumstances of self-defence, the French deterrence does not violate international law in any way.

Mr Chairman,

It is essential that the entire international community take action. We therefore call upon all States that have not yet ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty to do so, especially Annex II States, to allow its entry into force.

We welcome the launch of work of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT), established by resolution 67/53. France believes that negotiating a FMCT at the CD, in accordance with document CD/1299 and the mandate contained therein, is the first logical step towards multilateral disarmament. Coming after the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which put a qualitative limit to weapons improvement, the FMCT will put a quantitative limit to the development of arsenals. The GGE’s discussions have already been opportunity for useful exchanges. We hope that they can continue in a constructive way during the next three sessions and that they will lead to concrete recommendations, helpful for future negotiations.

Nuclear disarmament can only be achieved step by step, through a succession of concrete, gradual actions. This is the only effective approach, and it is the approach reflected in the 2010 Action Plan, which was adopted by consensus. On the contrary, some recent initiatives disregard the real strategic context; they turn away from concrete measures; they focus on dogmatic approaches and create parallel forums for discussion. They merely undermine the Action Plan and the NPT review process which brings us together today.

Disarmament will not be advanced through a dogmatic approach which does not take in account security considerations.

Mr Chairman,

Nuclear disarmament is meaningful only if it does not trigger an arms race in other areas. This is why it has to take place in the framework of general and complete disarmament, in accordance with Article VI of the NPT.

The massacre in Ghouta perpetrated by the Syrian authorities on 21 August 2013 using chemical weapons is still fresh in our memories. Although we welcome the adoption of resolution 2118 by the United Nations Security Council, forcing Syria to destroy its chemical weapons under joint OPCW/UN supervision, we will remain vigilant until this destruction is complete and has been verified over the long term.

France also welcomes the progress made with regard to the ratification of Arms Trade Treaty. It deposited its instruments of ratification on 2 April 2014, with 17 other countries of the European Union. These ratifications will shortly enable the entry into force of this Treaty, which is the first instrument establishing arms trade regulations.

Unfortunately, these positive elements must not distract us from the persistent threat of proliferation crises. The recent missile launches in North Korea, the crisis in Iran pending a long-term solution, and even grey zones surrounding certain facilities in Syria have a negative impact on disarmament. We must address these proliferation crises if we want to make progress with regard to disarmament.

Mr Chairman,

France remains committed to seeking a safer world for all and creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons, in accordance with the goals of the NPT, in a way that promotes international stability, and based on the principle of equal and undiminished security for all. We will do our utmost to achieve this.

Thank you.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU