France commends the adoption today of a work programme by the Conference on Disarmament. This major decision thereby puts an end to the stalemate of over ten years in this forum. France would like to thank the Algerian Presidency of the Conference on Disarmament for the efforts that it has undertaken to bring about this successful outcome. France welcomes the fact that the Conference can now resume negotiations and substantive work on disarmament.
This decision will enable negotiations to be engaged on a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons (cut-off treaty). France has been vigorously working towards the negotiation of this cut-off treaty for nearly fifteen years and welcomes the decision. It was one of the proposals regarding disarmament that the President of the French Republic put forward in the speech he gave at Cherbourg in March 2008 and was included in the European Action Plan on Disarmament adopted under the French Presidency of the European Union. Stopping fissile material production for nuclear weapons is a priority and core issue in the nuclear disarmament process, together with the entry into force of the Comprehensives Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). These two treaties must allow for both a qualitative and quantitative freeze on nuclear arsenals which is necessary to continue disarmament efforts.
France has long taken the lead. In 1992 it ceased all production of plutonium for its nuclear weapons and took similar steps in 1996 with regard to its highly enriched uranium. It was the first country to decide in 1996 to close and dismantle its fissile material production facilities for nuclear weapons at Pierrelatte and Marcoule. As the representatives of the Member States of the Conference on Disarmament and non-governmental experts saw in the visits of the Pierrelatte and Marcoule facilities recently organized by France, the dismantling of these facilities is indeed irreversible. France no longer has facilities which produce fissile materials for nuclear weapons.
What we have achieved today sends a very positive signal with a view to the upcoming 2010 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
France would now like to see the Conference on Disarmament swiftly resume its work. It is prepared to immediately undertake negotiations of a cut-off treaty. France, together with its partners of the European Union, calls on all States to henceforth strictly respect a moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.