20 October 2014 - UNGA / 1st Committee - “Nuclear” - Statement by Mr Jean-Hugues Simon-Michel Ambassador, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament
Mr Chair, Dear colleagues,
I fully endorse the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union.
The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and the foundation of our disarmament efforts. Our priority is to consolidate it. The Action Plan adopted by consensus in 2010 is our roadmap. It is important for it to be implemented without deviating from our chosen path in order to ensure the success of the 2015 Review Conference.
With our P5 partners, we make every effort to work in this direction. On 6th of May 2014, we signed the Protocol on the Central Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone that France intends to ratify promptly before the end of the year. We also remain ready to sign the Protocol of the Bangkok Treaty on the South-East Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone. Two years ago, in May 2012, we signed parallel declarations with Mongolia on its Nuclear Weapon Free Status. We support M. Jakko Laajava’s efforts in the preparation of the Conference on the creation of a Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and other Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East.
With our P5 partners, we are also continuing our work on transparency and strengthening confidence. Last April, we submitted national reports in line with Actions 5, 20 and 21 of the 2010 NPT Action Plan, under a common structure. We are also continuing our work on compiling a glossary, which is necessary for better mutual understanding. A further P5 conference will be held in London in early February to prepare the NPT Review Conference.
At a national level, France has an exemplary record in the field of nuclear disarmament: complete, unilateral and irreversible dismantlement of our nuclear test site, and of our plutonium and uranium production facilities for nuclear weapons; halving of the number of nuclear warheads, complete dismantlement of our land component, reduction by one third of our submarine and, as announced in 2008 and completed in 2010, of our airborne deterrent components. We were, alongside the United Kingdom, the first nuclear-weapon State to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). This record is exemplary and it is a record made up of actions, not words.
The implementation of the 2010 NPT Action Plan’s roadmap is also our collective responsibility. It is first of all a common approach which calls on all State Parties to the NPT to move forward step by step in a concrete and realistic manner. This multilateral process includes the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the launch of negotiations of the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT), in line with document CD/1299 and its mandate. The Action Plan adopted by consensus in 2010 calls on all States Parties to the NPT to act promptly on these two issues.
With regard to the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT), we are making progress. The Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) which was set up via resolution 67/53, held its first two sessions in March and August; it will complete its work in the first quarter of 2015. Debates of unprecedented substance on the FMCT also took place at the Conference on Disarmament (CD). We must mobilize to begin negotiations at the CD in line with document CD/1864.
The debates held this year, both at the GGE and at the CD are helping to move in that direction. It is important to take note of this progress. To make progress, it is essential to better understand each other’s positions, minimize divergences and identify possible avenues for compromise.
Mr Chair, Dear colleagues,
Disarmament cannot move forward if it ignores the strategic context.
Nuclear proliferation crisis remain our most pressing concern. They are an obvious hindrance to the continuation of our efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament. We have not seen any progress with regard to North Korea. In spring 2014, it threatened to conduct a fourth nuclear test and launched numerous ballistic missiles since February 2014, in direct contravention of the Security Council resolutions. Neither have we seen any clarifications in the Syrian nuclear dossier.
As regards the Iranian nuclear proliferation crisis, the negotiating session in New York in September was an opportunity to hold detailed and useful discussions, but the Iranian negotiators did not return to us willing to make the necessary action to achieve a breakthrough, with only two months until the expiration of the Geneva Agreement. Time is now of the essence. We can still reach an agreement, and France, within the Group of Six, remains determined and committed to negotiations. For an agreement to be possible, Iran needs to make the necessary decisions to prove the exclusively peaceful purposes of its nuclear programme.
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 in no way contravenes international law. It is strictly defensive and is exclusively meant to protect France’s vital interests in extreme self-defence circumstances.
France is determined to seek a safer world for all and to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons, in accordance with the goals of the NPT, in a manner promoting international stability and which is based on the principle of equal and undiminished security for all.
Thank you very much.