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2 May 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. Chairman,

France fully adheres to the statement made on behalf of the European Union on this chapter.

I would like to add a few words from a national standpoint to this statement.

Mr. Chairman,

The proliferation of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery is a major threat to international security and peace; it is also a threat to affected regions which must be resolutely opposed.

All the goals which we are pursuing as part of the Treaty are threatened by the severe proliferation crises which undermine the very foundations of strengthened collective security for all. Those crises are an obstacle to disarmament and an obstacle to the promotion of civil nuclear energy.

The fight against proliferation is therefore essential for our collective security. It must be led on three fronts: providing a firm response to proliferation crises, strengthening the international nuclear non-proliferation system and last, stepping up concrete efforts to prevent and curb proliferation.

First of all, regarding the question of Iran’s nuclear capabilities, 2013 saw a major first, positive step forward when the Geneva agreement was signed on November 24. The Joint Plan of Action entered into force on January 20. It has been implemented by Iran in a satisfactory manner to date. We can consider the most worrying main activities of the Iranian nuclear programme to be frozen at present. For their part, the European Union and the United States have scrupulously observed their commitments regarding the temporary and reversible suspension of some of the sanctions against Iran.

The Iranian nuclear programme has been pursued for more than 10 years in violation of the resolutions adopted first by the IAEA Board of Governors, then in violation of the United Nations Security Council, and remains a major source of concern for the international community. The negotiation of a long-term solution is underway. The Geneva Joint Plan of Action has set the deadline of July 20 for the E3+3 group and Iran to meet their objectives. Discussions, which have been ongoing for just over two months, have proved to be useful. Considerable limitations on the Iranian programme for the duration of the long-term agreement shall be needed to restore the trust of the international community in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s intentions. We also call on Iran to provide clear explanations on the potential military aspect of some of its activities past and present, as part of its dialogue with the IAEA. Concrete results in this regard shall be essential in reaching a long-term agreement. France is determined to fully play its role in these discussions to reach a satisfactory solution for international peace and security, in full compliance with Iran’s rights as a non-nuclear weapon state party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

With regard to the North Korean crisis, the situation remains extremely worrying. Although the ballistics test in December 2012 and the nuclear test in February 2013 were unanimously condemned by the international community, with the adoption of resolutions 2087 and 2094 by the United Nations Security Council, North Korea conducted more ballistic missile launches in March 2014, including two medium-range ballistic missile launches, and continues to issue aggressive statements. At the same time, the regime is openly stating its aim to develop its nuclear and ballistics programmes further, in violation of its international obligations. North Korea has decided to restart its nuclear complex at the Yongbyon site, and has carried out considerable work over the past few months on the nuclear and ballistics sites within its borders. This attitude is unacceptable: it constitutes a serious threat to international peace and security, and a major challenge for the international non-proliferation regime. The time has come for this country to return to the road of cooperation and full compliance with the law by conducting the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of its nuclear and ballistics programme, as required by resolutions 1695, 1718, 1874, 2087 and 2094 of the Security Council. North Korea must immediately provide serious demonstrations of its willingness to cooperate, allow IAEA inspectors to return to the country, providing them with access to all nuclear facilities, cease all proliferating activity and abstain from any further action which could increase the tensions in the region.

Finally, regarding Syria, further to the resolution adopted by the IAEA Board of Governors in June 2011, based on the IAEA report, France continues to call for all light to be shed on Syria’s past and present nuclear activities, while taking into account the development of the political situation in the country. We continue to fully support the Director-General of the IAEA in this regard.

Dear Colleagues, Mr. Chairman,

The IAEA holds an essential role within the international non-proliferation regime, and France believes that in order to strengthen it further we must as a priority support the efforts of the Agency to ensure that its safeguards system remains fully effective and credible.

To achieve this, we must call for the universal application and strengthening of the IAEA safeguards system.

In order to fulfil the goals of article III.1 of the NPT, France believes that the verification standard should be the implementation of a comprehensive safeguards agreement together with an additional protocol. The universal application of these two legal instruments therefore remains a priority.

Under the particularly restricted current economic and financial conditions, our efforts must above all focus on continually strengthening the safeguards system of the IAEA, and we are convinced that a State-level approach, already a reality for more than 50 Member States under integrated safeguards, makes a considerable contribution to this goal.

That is why France supports this development, which allows the IAEA to best fulfil its mandate of checking the accuracy and completeness of declarations by making use of all available sources of information regarding the safeguards and through their objective and independent analysis. The Agency shall thus be able to draw the most accurate conclusions possible for each State and meet the growing demand for verification activities by making better use of already existing resources.

Furthermore, we encourage IAEA Member States to implement the full consequences in cases where a country has been declared to be in non-compliance with its international obligations in terms of non-proliferation: suspension of access to the Agency’s programme of technical cooperation and assistance in the relevant areas, reaffirmation of the role of the United Nations Security Council, implementation by the State at fault of voluntary transparency measures in order to restore the trust of the international community as soon as possible.

France will continue to help strengthen the resources of the IAEA, in particular human and technical resources, through the provision of its skills and expertise under its National Safeguards Support Program.

Mr. Chairman,

Past investigations by the IAEA have uncovered the existence of a vast international network trafficking sensitive technology, which has not been fully exposed.

The implementation of the rigorous and universal control of exports of the most sensitive nuclear technologies, equipment and materials is a condition essential to the development of the nuclear trade.

The Zangger committee must continue its work to implement universal principles for export controls. Furthermore, France is working within the nuclear suppliers group to ensure export control rules are consistent with the other obligations of the Treaty.

Finally, the fight against proliferation requires us to step up concrete efforts to prevent and curb this threat. We must better control exports, supervise access to the most sensitive training, curb proliferating trafficking, punish proliferating activities and identify and cut out their financing. We must also strive to better implement resolution 1540, both to strengthen our national systems and to provide countries with the support they need to do so.

Dear colleagues;

In conclusion, I would like to mention the persistent concerns of the international community concerning the risks of proliferation which could result from withdrawal from the Treaty, and recall France’s stance on the issue. Let us be clear. Withdrawal from the Treaty is a sovereign right, which we do not call into question. However, this right cannot be exercised under just any conditions. To guarantee the integrity of the Treaty, and the long-term nature of our work to fight nuclear proliferation, we must prevent abuses of this right. I will have the opportunity to come back to this particular issue later.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, dear colleagues.

To learn more on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

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