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28 April 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 Chair, Dear Colleagues,

Allow me to begin by congratulating you on your appointment as Chair of the Conference.

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime. Its consolidation requires the full implementation of the Action Plan adopted by consensus in 2010. This sets out a progressive approach balanced between the three pillars. It is the only realistic and effective way forward.

Mr Chair,

Over the past year, some progress has been made in dealing with the crises of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, but much remains to be done.

North Korea is continuing to pursue the development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. In particular, the DPRK has carried out work on various nuclear installations in Yongbyon, in violation of its international obligations. In the last few weeks, North Korea has fired a number of ballistic missiles, including two medium-range missiles, and has announced that it would launch a new type of nuclear test. We call upon North Korea to resume dialogue without delay in order to dismantle its existing nuclear and ballistic missiles programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, and to refrain from any action which might increase tension in the region.

As far as the discussions on the Iranian nuclear programme are concerned, there has been encouraging developments in the past year. The Joint Action Plan which was adopted on 24 of November and entered into force in January, represented a step forward towards peace and security: for the first time, the E3+3 Group has obtained from Iran a six-month suspension of its nuclear programme’s most sensitive activities. More time has thus been given for the negotiation.

The Joint Action Plan is no more than the interim agreement, and discussions on a comprehensive solution have begun. The mandate given to the Six by the Security Council is to find a long-term solution regarding Iran’s nuclear programme in order to restore confidence in its exclusively peaceful purpose and to ensure that Iran is not seeking to develop a nuclear weapon. This is the meaning and the goal of the discussions that will resume in Vienna on 13 May between Iran and the Six. The preliminary phase has ended. We are now starting the negotiation phase itself in a constructive spirit, but our vigilance remains unchanged and our unwavering objective is to reach an agreement that complies with strict principles.

These crises represent major threats to international and regional security and stability. Proliferation is an impediment to the development of civil nuclear cooperation. By undermining mutual trust, it hinders disarmament. Such crises make decisions more necessary than ever on the consequences of proven non-compliance with the Treaty and abuse of the “right to withdraw”. We must tackle this issue. Working documents on withdrawal have been tabled.

Mr Chair,

Concerning nuclear disarmament, France will continue to fully shoulder its particular responsibilities as a nuclear-weapon-State.

Along with the four other Nuclear-Weapon-States, we have pursued the P5 Conference process, which offers the framework for exchanges necessary for the strengthening of mutual confidence and work on nuclear terminology, verification and transparency. In this regard, we all agreed to submit an identically structured national report containing identical headings, covering not only our efforts on disarmament, but also on the other two pillars. France is going to circulate today its national report as a working paper.

The target of a one-third reduction in the airborne component of our deterrence force was met at the beginning of this cycle of the NPT. This complements the considerable and already established achievements such as : reducing the size of the arsenal by half in the last 20 years, the complete dismantling of the land component of our deterrence force, reducing the naval component by one third, transparency on the number of nuclear warheads -numbering less than 300, lowering of levels of alert, and unilateral, complete and irreversible dismantling of our nuclear testing site and production facilities for nuclear weapons fissile material.

We have also made progress on the matter of nuclear-weapon-free zones. I was granted full powers from the President of the French Republic to sign during this 2014 PrepCom the protocol to the Semipalatinsk Treaty on the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone after two years discussions. We have signed two parallel declarations with Mongolia on the nuclear-weapon-free status of this country. We hope the Protocol to the Bangkok Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone can be signed as soon as possible. For our part, we are ready to do so. Concerning the Middle Eastern region, our objective remains the holding of a conference on the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, and their delivery systems. We have every confidence in the facilitator Mr Jaakko Laajava for the achievement of this objective at the earliest possible date.

Multilaterally, our priority is to move forward on the matter of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT). We would have preferred to enter directly into negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament. Failing this, the discussions held at the beginning of the month in the Group of Governmental Experts, set up by Resolution 67/53, have in our view been highly useful and provide an excellent basis for the next session of the GGE that will take place next August. We are convinced that these discussions will provide a better understanding of the respective positions and we hope that they will lead ultimately to concrete and relevant recommendations.

Mr Chair,

The objective of a world without nuclear weapons cannot be decreed in the abstract, without taking the international strategic context into account.

The conditions for the achievement of a world without nuclear weapons must be the outcome of gradual and collective work, guided by concrete measures. Undermining existing forums such as this one, by creating parallel processes, and calling into question the step-by-step approach of the 2010 Action Plan, as certain recent initiatives do, will not advance nuclear disarmament. Quite the contrary.

Mr Chair,

All States which scrupulously meet their international obligations and pursue civil nuclear programmes in good faith must be able to benefit from the peaceful applications of the atom.

In 2013, the prospects for growth of the civil nuclear energy sector in the coming years have been confirmed. In this context, France reaffirms its commitment to responsible development of nuclear energy that is to say in compliance with the highest standards of safety, security and non-proliferation. It is essential to pursue international cooperation, in particular with regard to training. France particularly welcomes the holding in Vienna next May of the IAEA international conference on this topic.

The IAEA plays a key role in the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. We support the actions whose goal is the continued strengthening of the safeguards system, in particular the further development of the application of the safeguards at the State level. We believe that, in order to achieve the goals set up in Article III.1 of the NPT, verification should be based on the implementation of a comprehensive safeguards agreement and an additional protocol. France calls on all states that have not yet done so to ratify and implement them as soon as possible.

Regarding nuclear safety, several more years will be necessary to draw all the lessons from the Fukushima accident. Nonetheless, we already have an action plan, from the IAEA, which we are implementing with scrupulous care. Indeed, we are circulating an update to our national version of this action plan during this PrepCom. We wish to draw your attention to two issues of major importance for us:

-  The development and generalization of international peer review missions and undertakings by States to accept at least one OSART mission by the end of 2014 and to publish their conclusions;

-  The establishment of a Global Regime of Civil Nuclear Liability, to which we have contributed this year by signing a Joint Statement with the United States. We continue to call upon all concerned States to accede to the strengthened international instruments in this area.

Regarding nuclear security, France wishes this year to draw attention to the need to strengthen the protection of radioactive sources in order to provide the same conditions of safety and security as those that exist for nuclear materials. That is why the President of the Republic announced an initiative at the Summit in The Hague which notably calls for the formation of a group of suppliers of high-activity radioactive sources. We shall return to this subject in the specialized segment.

Mr Chair,

I would like to end to finish by saying a word on the situation in Ukraine. France condemns the violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine and its territorial integrity. The actions by Russia are contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and the undertakings given in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 adopted in connection with Ukraine’s accession to the NPT. In this sense, these actions obviously have a very negative impact.

You can count on my support, and that of my delegation, to assist you in your task.

To learn more on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

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