It is the Council’s responsibility to protect the chemical non-proliferation regime [fr]
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 6 September 2018
I thank the United States presidency for convening this meeting. I also thank the United Kingdom for this very timely update on the results of the British investigation into the exposure of three individuals to a military nerve agent in Salisbury last March. At the outset, on behalf of France, I would like to reiterate the solidarity expressed by our most senior officials to our British friends in the aftermath of the hostile act on 4 March.
The British police investigation has now come to an end. I would like to commend the United Kingdom’s commitment to transparency and the way in which it has conducted the investigation in conjunction with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), whose exemplary work I also commend. I will say a few words about what happened, before briefly turning to the more general issues.
The facts are clear: the results of the British investigation, combined with those of the OPCW, confirm the initial analysis, which we agree with, on the absence of any plausible explanation other than that Russia is responsible. Everything lines up. A powerful chemical agent, Novichok, which is considered to be produced by the military, was indeed used in Salisbury against Sergei Skripal and his daughter, and later in Amesbury. I note the British conclusion that such an operation could have been launched and approved only at a sufficiently high level of the Russian State. We have taken note of the issuance by the British justice system of arrest warrants against the two Russian military intelligence officers identified by the British police, and we are prepared to cooperate with its services.
In the light of those very serious elements, I wish to express my country’s deep concern and reiterate our condemnation of such acts, which are unacceptable. We have unanimously reaffirmed that position to our partners in NATO and the European Union.
Those actions endanger the safety of many civilians, undermine the safety of one of our closest allies, are contrary to the rules of international law and flout all the principles of mutual cooperation and respect to which we are committed.
The use of chemical weapons should in no way be considered an option at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The re-emergence of those weapons challenges our collective security system in a way that we cannot accept. It is the Council’s responsibility to protect the chemical non-proliferation regime, and with it our collective security system. We ask Russia, a member of the Security Council, to respond to all the questions that are raised. We also call on the Council and all our partners, including Russia, to firmly commit themselves to protecting the Chemical Weapons Convention and to reaffirming the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.
To that end, we must strengthen the capacity of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to ensure that it is able to fulfil its mandate. The implementation of the decision adopted by the Special Session of the Conference of the States Parties to Review the Operation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, held in June following the major incidents in Duma and Salisbury, must serve as our road map. That meeting of the States Parties to the Convention also showed that the majority of the international community shares our concerns about the risk with regard to the chemical non-proliferation regime being called into question and supports the principle of strengthening the Convention’s means of protection.
It is essential to provide the international community with an investigation and accountability mechanism for all cases of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Such an instrument is essential for the protection of the chemical non-proliferation regime, and we have long encouraged Russia to take that path. We will return to that topic this afternoon during our meeting on Syria.
As the President of the Republic, Mr. Emmanuel Macron, recently recalled, France is resolutely engaged with and committed to the protection of the Chemical Weapons Convention regime, and it is fully determined. We have just reaffirmed that, together with our British, American, German and Canadian partners.
In the same spirit, we want the European Union to adopt a sanctions regime against individuals and entities involved in the proliferation or use of chemical weapons. The Council can count on France’s full and complete commitment in that regard.