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11 October 2012 - 1st Committee - General Debate - Statement by Mr. Jean-Hugues Simon-Michel, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva

(Unofficial translation)

Mr. Jean-Hugues Simon-Michel, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva adresses at General Debat of the 1st Committee - New York - 11 October 2012 - Franceonu Photo - Service de presse


Mr Chairman, Dear Colleagues,

France associates itself with the European Union’s statement. I would, however, like to add the following national observations.

This past year has seen a certain amount of progress in disarmament and international security, which France welcomes.

Following the success of the NPT Review Conference in 2010, an encouraging new NPT cycle was launched this year with balanced discussions on each of the three pillars. The five nuclear-weapon States are actively working on the implementation of the 2010 Action Plan, which forms our common road map. These States held a first follow-up meeting in Paris in 2011. We then met again in Washington in June 2012 in the lead-up to the 2015 Review Conference.

We have also made progress with the question of nuclear-weapon-free zones. The P5 stand ready to sign the Protocol to the Bangkok Treaty establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in South-East Asia. On 17 September, the five nuclear-weapon States and Mongolia adopted parallel declarations on Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status. The conference on the creation of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East is also scheduled for this year. France, along with the EU, is assisting with the preparations for this conference. France is also providing its full support to the facilitator, Mr Laajava.

I would furthermore like to commend the progress made with the ratification of the CTBT over the last twelve months, as six new States have ratified it, including your country, Indonesia, Mr Chairman, which is an Annex II State.

France will not shirk its nuclear disarmament commitments. Since our accession to the NPT, precisely 20 years ago, we have halved our nuclear arsenal and taken irreversible measures such as dismantling our production facilities for fissile material for nuclear weapons. France continues to fully commit to seeking a safer world for all and to work, with all the States, on 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 undiminished security of all.

Yet nuclear disarmament, as stated by Article VI of the NPT, is just one facet of general and complete disarmament. It cannot be envisaged independently of the other aspects of disarmament and weapons control.

Here again, progress is to be commended. The BTWC Review Conference finished on a high note in December 2011, with a road map to respond to the new challenges created by the development of technologies in this area. The Ottawa and especially Oslo conventions are moving towards universalisation. The conference to review the programme of action on illicit trade in small arms and light weapons recently adopted a consensus outcome document renewing the States’ commitments, even though we regret that this document did not go further, especially on the issue of MANPADS.

Most importantly, July 2012 found us on the verge of adopting an ambitious Arms Trade Treaty, thanks to president Roberto GARCÍA MORITÁN’s patience, competence and diplomatic skills. We now urgently need to finalise these negotiations, but I will come back to that.

My presentation of our work to promote a safer international environment would not be complete without a word on space and the EU’s work to develop an international code of conduct for outer space activities as well as the GGE’s work on transparency and confidence-building measures in space.

However, this progress should not blind us to the huge challenges facing us in the coming months. I would like to mention but three of them.

The first is, unfortunately, the continuation and even aggravation of proliferation crises. Nuclear proliferation threatens everyone’s security. It hinders the development of civil nuclear cooperation by undermining confidence. It is a hindrance to progress in nuclear disarmament.

The Iranian nuclear crisis is obviously the first in line of these crises. The development of the Iranian nuclear programme, carried out in spite of United Nations Security Council and IAEA Board of Governors resolutions, is a matter of serious concern with regard to international peace and security. The international community shares this view and has repeated it with the adoption by the Board of Governors of a new resolution on Iran on 13 September. We are continuing with our efforts to obtain from Iran that it finally complies with its obligations and to find a long-term diplomatic solution to this crisis. The complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of the North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile programme is also a priority for the international community, which firmly condemned the rocket launch conducted by North Korea on 13 April this year. Last but not least, light still remains to be shed on Syria’s nuclear activities.

In addition to these nuclear crises, there are new, serious concerns over chemical weapons. On 23 July, the Damascus regime publicly acknowledged that it had chemical weapons. This statement is particularly worrying given the level of violence in Syria and the repeated abuses the regime has committed against its people. The President of the French Republic spoke very clearly on this point at the General Assembly a few days ago. Moreover, just a few months from the Third Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Syrian crisis demonstrates the importance of the universalisation of the CWC from the point of view of both disarmament and non- proliferation.

In these same countries, the proliferation of WMDs is coupled, in no less worrying a manner, with new ballistic missile programme developments. The Security Council has repeatedly stressed, especially in its Resolutions 1540, 1887 and 1977, that the proliferation of missiles capable of delivering WMDs constitutes a threat to international peace and security. Huge challenges still lay ahead even as this year marks the tenth anniversary of the HCOC and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the MTCR.

Our second major challenge is the situation with the Conference on Disarmament and the launch of negotiations for a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

The CD urgently needs to finally adopt a programme of work based on the CD/1864 document, approved by consensus in 2009. The launch of negotiations for a fissile material cut-off treaty is the next logical step in nuclear disarmament. Fissile material is the raw material for weapons. This negotiation is the priority, as recognised by Security Council Resolution 1887, by Action 15 of the 2010 NPT Review Conference Action Plan and every year by a General Assembly resolution.

The CD is the sole multilateral body tasked with negotiating universal treaties on disarmament and a large number of countries, including mine, value it highly. It has many successes to its credit, such as the CWC and the CTBT, to name but the most recent. The current situation, created by opposition from one country, is understandably frustrating, including for my own country. Many and varied ideas have been put as to how to overcome this deadlock. Yet the CD’s expertise and characteristics, especially the consensus rule and the participation of all the States with key capabilities in the nuclear field, also guarantee that the agreements it negotiates will be truly universal and will make a real contribution to international security. We need to take this into account if we are to avoid finding ourselves in an impasse.

The third major challenge I would like to raise is the Arms Trade Treaty. An ambitious treaty was within our grasp at the conference in July.

We urgently need to conclude these negotiations in the coming months on the strength of July’s achievements. This means basing our work on the document submitted by the President on 26 July. The repercussions of arms trade globalisation are such that the international community needs a foundation of shared, legally binding rules to regulate legitimate arms trade and prevent illicit trafficking. This treaty needs to cover all types of transfers and all types of conventional arms, including small arms and light weapons, and their parts, components and ammunition.

Of all the major projects for which we are responsible, the ATT can probably generate the most immediate benefits in terms of international security, humanitarian impacts and combating terrorism and organised crime.

I hope this progress will be the model of efficient multilateralism that France calls for and the demonstration that the United Nations is able to successfully conduct universal consensus negotiations on arms control.

Mr Chairman, Colleagues,

These are the few thoughts I wanted to share with you, at the opening of this committee, on how France sees the major challenges we need to meet and my country’s priorities. I will naturally be pleased to discuss these matters in more detail in each of the cluster discussions.

Thank you.



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