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19 april 2012 - Security Council - Nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and security - Statement by Mr Martin Briens, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

I thank the Secretary-General for his statement and commend his personal commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation. I would also like to thank you, Madam President, for organizing this debate.

Three years after the Council’s groundbreaking summit on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of September 2009 (see S/PV.6191) and the unanimous adoption of resolution 1887 (2009), it is important that the Council address once again the issue of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, which continues to be one of the chief threats to international peace and security. Three years ago, along with the other heads of State and Government at the Council summit on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, the President of France reiterated our commitment to seeking a safer world for all and to working with all States to establish the conditions necessary for a nuclear-weapon-free world, in accordance with the aims of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Various successes and initiatives testify to the new momentum that the international community has demonstrated since then.

I am thinking, first of all, of the success of the NPT Review Conference held in May 2010. The adoption by consensus of a concrete, balanced Action Plan based on the three pillars of the Treaty — disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear power — and on the Middle East, was a result of major importance. It demonstrated the shared commitment of the international community to strengthening the international non-proliferation regime, and is testament to its deep appreciation for the NPT, an irreplaceable instrument of our collective security.

That Action Plan is our shared road map for the years ahead; its implementation is the responsibility of all of us. It is up to each State party to fulfil its part of that contract so that we can move towards a safer world. France, together with its partners, the other four permanent members of the Council, is ready to shoulder its responsibilities. We have made significant efforts with regard to nuclear disarmament, including quantitative reductions, irreversible steps, transparency and confidence-building measures, and having to do with doctrine. Our willingness to work with other nuclearweapon States is also quite clear. In July 2011 in Paris, France organized the first meeting of the five permanent members of the Security Council (P-5) to follow up the Review Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. That successful meeting made it possible once again to underscore the determination of the five nuclear-weapon States to pursue the implementation of concrete efforts aimed at ensuring full respect for the commitments undertaken with regard to the Treaty.

I also welcome the progress made during the discussions among the P-5 and the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations with regard to the Protocol to the Bangkok Treaty on the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in South-East Asia. We hope that the Protocol will be signed very soon.

Moreover, I welcome the fact that the United States and the Russian Federation, the two countries whose arsenals constitute almost 95 per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons, agreed on important steps with the signing and entry into force of the New START agreement. We also welcome the recent ratifications of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, in particular by Indonesia, which is an annex 2 State, as well as by Guatemala.

Additional success in other disarmament areas should also be underscored, such as the entry into force of the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions and the positive outcome last December of the Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention. Some progress was also possible with regard to non-proliferation, including new ratifications of the Additional Protocol, the 10-year extension of the mandate of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) by resolution 1977 (2011), and developments in the Nuclear Suppliers Group. And, of course, we welcome the fact that, a few days following the Seoul Summit, meaningful efforts were made at the highest level to improve nuclear security and to better understand the threat posed by nuclear terrorism and the need to secure the most vulnerable sources. Those efforts must be pursued in the run-up to the third Summit, to be held in the Netherlands in 2014.

With regard to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, many initiatives have been launched to promote nuclear safety following the accident at Fukushima. In that regard, I have in mind the adoption of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Action Plan on Nuclear Security. France actively contributed to the Plan, in particular by organizing, in June 2011 in Paris, an international seminar on nuclear safety.

Lastly, with regard to the implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, the preparatory process led by the facilitator, Ambassador Jaakko Laajava, is moving in the right direction. We should all work together on conditions conducive to the holding of the Conference this year with all the stakeholders concerned.

All those efforts will be in vain if we do not respond to the current challenges facing the non-proliferation regime, and especially if we do not firmly address the serious proliferation crises before the Council. The number one priority is combating proliferation. Let us be clear: nuclear proliferation threatens the security of all. By undermining mutual confidence, it poses an obstacle to the development of civil nuclear cooperation. It also slows down progress on nuclear disarmament.

In order that the right of the vast majority of States to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy not be put into question, the international community must deal firmly with those who violate the common rules. Above all, that means responding to the major proliferation crises before the Council. The situation since September 2009 has not improved — far from it. In November 2010, a secret enrichment programme was uncovered in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in violation of resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009). As we know, with the launching of a missile in recent days, the Council was faced a new violation of those resolutions. With regard to Iran, last Saturday in Istanbul the E3+3 resumed discussions with that country on its nuclear programme. The E3+3 were once again united in its determination to carry out a serious dialogue with Iran, with the goal of ensuring that the country responds to the concerns of the international community with regard to the nature of its programme and that it fully respects its international obligations. Future discussions will be important. Iran must take concrete steps to restore confidence, in accordance with the resolutions of the Council and of the IAEA Board of Governors.

More generally speaking, strengthening the non-proliferation regime is also a priority, including universalizing the IAEA safeguards system, in particular by general acceptance of the additional protocol.

Lastly, we must take concrete steps to halt the spread of proliferation and continue our efforts to combat the threat posed by nuclear and radiological terrorism.

Secondly, we should also pursue disarmament efforts in every area. I should recall that France fully meets its responsibilities under article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). We are prepared to continue those efforts but, as recalled in resolution 1887 (2009), all of us should make progress together. Every State, whether it has nuclear weapons or not and whether or not it is a party to the NPT, should contribute to disarmament by creating the necessary security environment and making progress in all areas of disarmament.

With regard to nuclear disarmament in particular, there is indeed a need for reductions but, first of all, there is a need to stop arming. In addition to halting nuclear tests, that entails that all States concerned put an end to the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and to dismantle the relevant facilities, as France has already done. That also requires that we step up our efforts to ensure that all States that have not yet done so ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test- Ban Treaty and that the Disarmament Commission immediately start negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Thirdly, and lastly, we must ensure the responsible and sustainable development of civil nuclear energy. In order to overcome the challenges of climate change, we cannot deprive ourselves of the contribution of nuclear energy. However, the Fukushima accident has reminded us that it is not possible to use nuclear energy without public confidence. It also shows the degree to which we need to strengthen safety rules throughout the world, as well as to put in place national and international capabilities to respond in the event of an accident. That is the reason that we should apply the most rigorous standards in the areas of non-proliferation, nuclear safety and security, and environmental protection, all the while promoting universal adherence to the conventions in force on nuclear responsibility. Those are all things we can do, not in the distant future but in the months and years to come, in order to together create a safer world.



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