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22 October 2012 - 1st Committee - Other weapons of mass destruction - Statement by Mr. Jean-Hugues Simon-Michel, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva

(Unofficial translation)

Mr Chairman,

France associates itself with the European Union’s statement. I would like to make some additional remarks from our national perspective.

The discussion on “other weapons of mass destruction” is of critical importance for my delegation. This is no secondary matter. The fact that the Damascus regime acknowledged that it has chemical weapons on 23 July 2012 shows how present this threat is.

The international community has legally binding instruments that are adapted to the specific nature of these different types of weapons. These instruments are indispensable. They need to be universalised and thoroughly complied with to prevent this threat.

Mr Chairman,

The third Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) Review Conference will be held in 2013. This disarmament instrument is unique: it is the only international convention that provides for the complete eradication of a whole class of weapons of mass destruction and a binding verification system that allows for action to fight proliferation. Today, we can take pride in the substantial progress made since the Convention entered into force, with the destruction of more than 76% of the chemical weapon stockpiles reported by the States holding them. However, there is still much to do to achieve their complete elimination and we urge the States holding them to complete the destruction of their chemical weapon stockpiles as soon as possible.

The third CWC Review Conference in April 2013 should be an opportunity to maintain and strengthen the credibility of the system set up under the Convention, by adapting it to the challenges of the 21st century. Now that the process of destroying chemical weapons is well under way, we should put the accent on the non-proliferation objective. This calls for a strengthening of the industrial verification system and implementation at the national level.

Even though 188 States are now parties to the Convention, the universalization of the CWC has not yet been completed. My country urges all States that have not already done so to sign and ratify the Convention. The risk posed by chemical weapons is still present. We can see it today in Syria, where the situation is particularly worrisome, given the level of violence and the repeated outrages that the Damascus regime has committed against its people. On this point, I would like to recall what the President of the French Republic said to the General Assembly, that the regime’s use of chemical weapons would have major consequences for Syria. In dealing with this situation, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons must be ready to act if it is called upon by the Secretary General of the United Nations. We welcome the action taken by its Director-General in this matter.

Mr Chairman,

The Seventh Review Conference of the Convention on the Prohibition of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons (BWC) was held in December 2012. This Convention is another crucial component of the international system for fighting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This Convention enshrines a fundamental principle for international peace and security: biological weapons must not be developed, produced or stockpiled for any reason whatsoever. France urges all of the States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify this treaty. Its universalisation is a crucial objective for my country.

My delegation welcomes the adoption of a new intersessional process to deal with three vital subjects on an on-going basis. These subjects are scientific and technological developments, cooperation and assistance, and national implementation. Before the next review conference in 2016, discussions will also focus on confidence-building measures mechanism and implementation of Article VII.

The meetings held under the new intersessional process will enable States Parties to share useful experiences and information. But they will also give us an opportunity to discuss practical measures to make the Convention more authoritative and effective. With this in mind, France will continue to promote the idea of a peer-review system, initially presented at the Review Conference held at the end of 2011.

Mr Chairman,

As the depository State of the 1925 Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Chemical and Bacteriological Weapons, France wants to reaffirm its attachment to this instrument, which is still vital, particularly since the major conventions prohibiting these two types of weapons are not yet universalised. France urges all of the Member States that have not yet acceded to this Protocol to do so without further delay and it urges those States that submitted reservations to withdraw them.

No one must think that use of these weapons of mass destruction will go unexplained or unpunished. For this purpose, France maintains its full support for the Secretary General’s mechanism for investigation on alleged use of these weapons. France reaffirms that it will contribute, according to its capacities, to a specific request for help in implementing this instrument.

In order to ensure the proper conduct of such inspections, if they are requested, France will organise training for the experts likely to be called upon for such investigations. This training will be given from 4tu to 12th November 2012 within the framework of the G8 Global Partnership.

Mr Chairman,

The issue of weapons of mass destruction delivery systems is also central to this discussion. The United Nations Security Council has repeatedly stressed, in its Resolutions 1540, 1887 and 1977, the proliferation of missiles capable of delivering WMDs constitutes a threat to international peace and security. The international community has a limited range of instruments to fight the proliferation of ballistic missiles and these instruments do not provide for mandatory monitoring of activities in this area.

We are all aware that the Iranian and North Korean programmes are moving forward. The Syrian government’s continued activities related to developing its missiles, probably with the help of third countries, is also very worrisome, especially in view of the revelations concerning its WMD programmes.

Missiles are a collective concern that must be dealt with urgently. We should step up our efforts to strengthen the effectiveness of multilateral arrangements, such as the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC) and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). We are still facing major challenges, even though this year marks the 10th anniversary of the HCOC and the 25th anniversary of the MTCR. We specifically support the efforts made to universalise the HCOC. We are determined to continue raising the international community’s awareness of this threat and to promote transparency regarding ballistic missiles.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU