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4 May 2010 - NPT Review Conference - Statement by Mr. Eric Danon, Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament

Mr. President,

My country fully associates itself with the statement made on behalf on the European Union and with its words of congratulation addressed to you personally. I will simply concentrate here on a number of points relating to the French stance. The progress of nuclear disarmament, in particular the New START Treaty which we welcome, the serious proliferation crises we are facing, and what is now commonly known as the "renaissance of civil nuclear energy" show that the NPT, as an essential instrument of collective security, is more than ever the keystone of our common nuclear security.

We therefore approach this Review Conference very positively, in the hope that all States parties to the NPT will strongly reaffirm their support for the Treaty and their determination to preserve its integrity. We also hope they will find common ground for concrete and realistic solutions to strengthen the non-proliferation regime in all its aspects.

France is committed to implementing its obligations under the Treaty and the commitments made by previous Review Conferences, including those of 1995 and 2000. It has therefore chosen to convince by setting an example and to support ambitious initiatives in all Treaty areas.

I. In the area of disarmament we have, in nearly 15 years, cut the number of nuclear warheads by half and communicated, for the sake of transparency, the ceiling of 300 warheads of our total arsenal. We totally dismantled our ground-to-ground component ; we reduced our airborne component and our submarine component by 30 per cent. We ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) twelve years ago already and dismantled our test centres. We halted production of weapons-grade plutonium and uranium and dismantled related facilities, which represents a financial effort of 6 billion euro. Our doctrine is strictly defensive and stringently limits the role of nuclear weapons by restricting implementation of deterrence to extreme circumstances of self-defence.

We believe that similar action on the part of all States would enhance international security. Only real disarmament, disarmament by means of concrete actions, can enhance world stability. We have drawn up proposals to that end with our European partners. They were presented to you yesterday so I won’t go over them again here. But I wish to stress the importance of strengthening the non-proliferation regime by making the CTBT enter into force and starting negotiations on a Cut-off Treaty. In this respect, France welcomes the announcement made yesterday by Indonesia of its intention to launch the process of ratification of the CTBT. I also recall that France is co-chairing with Morocco, since September 2009, the so-called "Article XIV conference" which promotes the entry into force of the CTBT.

I further wish to stress that we should all mobilize in all areas, namely those of biological, chemical and conventional weapons and of ballistic proliferation and space, not only with a view to enhancing international security, but also to ensuring that nuclear disarmament is not offset by a new arms race in these areas.

We should, however, keep one reality in mind: the United States, Russia, Great Britain and France succeeded in making headway in the area of disarmament solely because the strategic context had changed considerably, with the end of the Cold War and the construction of a Europe that finally achieved unity. Tangible progress towards disarmament and the elimination of nuclear weapons can only be achieved in the long run, beyond emphatic statements of good intention, through a comprehensive strategy covering the resolution of regional tensions and enhancement of collective security mechanisms, in addition to the action plans we are calling for.

II. We must also respond to the growing demand for civil nuclear energy. As the French President recalled, civil nuclear energy can be the cement of a new international solidarity. France, which has resolutely opted for nuclear energy, is thus prepared to cooperate with any country that complies with its international obligations. Respecting one’s obligations does not mean renouncing one’s "inalienable" rights, but exercising them in a responsible way in a world where the issue of energy can only be tackled through solidarity and with a view to sustainable development. Unless it becomes a risk for everyone, nuclear energy should develop against a backdrop of confidence through application of the highest standards of security, safety, non-proliferation and environmental protection.

This issue of the challenges relating to the "renaissance" of civil nuclear energy should be debated collectively. These challenges are diverse: proliferation risks, safety and security of nuclear facilities, prevention of trafficking in nuclear and radioactive materials for terrorist or mafia purposes, addressing training needs, security of supply, financing of the development of nuclear energy, environmental issues.

These challenges should be addressed in the framework of a new global "governance" of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. This implies strengthening the core of the IAEA system and preventing uncontrolled dissemination of sensitive technologies, guaranteeing the supply of nuclear fuel, considering together the question of radioactive waste, focusing on training, and examining innovative financing of nuclear infrastructures. France would like the Review Conference to be an opportunity to launch this essential debate and reaffirm the major principles that guide and facilitate the development of nuclear energy. France is going to put forward proposals to that end.

III. But let us be clear. Disarmament and the development of civil nuclear energy can only continue in good conditions if we halt nuclear proliferation. North Korea has shown us what happens when we allow time to go by and resign ourselves to faits accomplis. Let us not repeat this scenario with others. France, with its partners of the Six, has sought dialogue ceaselessly to arrive at a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue that would meet Iran’s needs and the international community’s serious concerns about the purpose of the Iran’s nuclear programme. Together with its partners, France has made a number of far-reaching offers to Iran. But dialogue is not an end in itself ; dialogue must produce results. At present, the defiant attitude opted for by the Iranian government and ensuing concern on the part of the IAEA, the countries in the region and the international community as a whole leave no option to the Security Council but to consider new sanctions to persuade Iran to negotiate.

To strengthen our joint efforts to prevent proliferation, it is essential, in addition, to give the IAEA the authority and the means it needs to fulfil its crucial verification mission. 128 countries have already signed an Additional Protocol allowing for enhanced verification of their nuclear programme. We hope all the other countries will join them, as the development of nuclear energy can only prosper with mutual trust.

Strengthening the non-proliferation regime also requires ceaselessly trying to achieve NPT universality, encouraging non-NPT member States to come closer to the non-proliferation regime now by adhering to the terms of the Treaty and acceding to other non-proliferation and disarmament treaties and instruments. We understand the frustration felt by many countries over the slow implementation of the 1995 resolution on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, chemical and biological, and their delivery systems. We must do our utmost to accelerate its implementation and, there again, we hope that the Review Conference will make it possible to define realistic courses of action.

***

Mr. President,

Basically, what we want to build during the coming years is an overall nuclear strategy for a safer world.

A world in which all States will work resolutely to advance disarmament in all its aspects; in which the doctrines of nuclear powers will restrict the role of nuclear weapons solely to extreme circumstances of self-defence where their vital interests are under threat, with arsenals scaled down to the level of strict sufficiency in relation to the international strategic context.

A world where proliferation will be combated firmly. History has taught us the price to be paid for failing to react in time, when certain countries default on their international obligations and defy the authority of the international community. A world where civil nuclear energy will develop in the best conditions of safety, security and non-proliferation. Where nuclear and radioactive materials will be even better protected.

A world in which non-NPT member States will take a keener interest in the non-proliferation regime by making new commitments.

In short, a world in which nuclear energy, after symbolizing confrontation during the Cold War, will become in its civil dimension a symbol of effective international cooperation and solidarity, in the framework of the planet’s sustainable development.

Such is the challenge we must take up, all together. France would like our Review Conference to help lay the foundations of this new nuclear order by adopting an ambitious and pragmatic roadmap that may be implemented by 2015. It will work for this resolutely with all States wishing to make concrete headway towards a safer world that will help create the conditions for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Thank you, Mr. President

Statement by Mr. Eric Danon, Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, during the NPT Review Conference - 4 May 2010 (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)



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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