Non-proliferation: "The outlook is bleak" [fr]

Security Council - Non-proliferation - Speech by M. Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Secretary of State of the Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs - 21 September 2017.

" Proliferation is no longer the exclusive domain of a single type of actor — the risk of non-State actors getting their hands on sensitive materials is now a dangerous reality", Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, 21 September 2017.


On behalf of France, I thank the Ethiopian presidency, the United States and its Secretary of State, Mr. Rex Tillerson, for convening this very timely and necessary meeting. I also thank Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu for her very informative speech.The General Assembly’s high-level week will be marked by intense discussions on the acute threats to our world.

Our strategic environment and the foundations of peace and security, as we know them, are facing major challenges, particularly in the area of non-proliferation. There is no doubt that the outlook is bleak. With the barbaric use of toxic agents in Syria, Iraq and Asia, we are witnessing the disastrous reappearance of weapons that sow the seeds of fear and death among people — ones that we thought we had banished to the annals of history. I also refer to the growing risks on the Korean peninsula, which will have monopolized many of our discussions this week. The threat has now risen to an increasingly alarming and unprecedented level and is of concern to us all. Far from reverting to reason, the Pyongyang regime is continuing its military escalation and continues to provide evidence of its irresponsible attitude through its increasingly disturbing and threatening actions.

Beyond those worrying cases, we are facing increasingly complex proliferation flows and increased risks of diversion of sensitive goods and technologies, which are more and more easily accessible. Finally, proliferation is no longer the exclusive domain of a single type of actor — the risk of non-State actors getting their hands on sensitive materials is now a dangerous reality. In the face of those extremely serious challenges, only pragmatic and realistic multilateralism can be the solution.

The Iranian case confirms that a proactive attitude from the international community can open up solutions to proliferation crises. The Vienna agreement, which France has actively helped to build and improve, is a major historic milestone. President Macron has said that France is firmly committed to it. It would be a mistake to denounce the agreement, as it would be irresponsible to pursue an à la carte implementation of the provisions of the resolution that endorsed it. We must respond to the intensification of Iran’s ballistic activities, some of which are not in conformity with resolution 2231 (2015). Such behaviour is destabilizing for regional security and undermines mutual trust.To put it another way, there can be no alternative to the non-proliferation regime. That is a constant line from which France has never deviated. That is particularly true of the issue of chemical weapons in Syria, where those responsible for the tragedy on 4 April and so many other attacks will have to be held accountable.

That also applies to the ongoing crisis on the Korean peninsula, which we must respond to with firmness and unity. The only way out of the crisis is to chart the way for a negotiated solution. While North Korea refuses that option and chooses dangerous isolation, only firmness can give us the leverage we seek to bring the regime to the negotiating table.Collective action to contain proliferation requires dialogue and a direct discussion of crises. However, it also involves concrete and operation action. To contain and curb proliferation, we must, more than ever, increase our mobilization. However, let us not neglect the virtue of the regimes already in place — the current non-proliferation regime is being severely tested but it has also proved its worth.

The Security Council has long been committed to strengthening the current non-proliferation regime. It can count on the support of the international organizations that are capable of verifying the compliance of States with their commitments and establishing facts and responsibilities. I would like to commend the work of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In addition, multilateralism, as part of non-proliferation, strengthens cooperation and the exchange of information. Mechanisms, such as export control regimes and the Proliferation Security Initiative, are part of a virtuous movement that enhances our level of vigilance. We must work to strengthen those mechanisms.

To conclude, I wish to recall one simple truth. What is at stake is the weakening of the non-proliferation regime. If that were to happen, the very existence and authority of the rule of law would be threatened. We would need to further sanction violations. Beyond our passing political differences, as deep as they might seem, there are fundamental rules from which we cannot waver. Non-proliferation is at the forefront of those, because it is a important concern to us all. France’s message is simple — the fight against proliferation is a collective responsibility.

Everyone must contribute to shouldering that responsibility as much as they can. There is no room for impotence, fatalism or political exploitation. We can and must do more. Our responsibility today, our credibility in the future and our ability to protect generations to come from the risk of an eroded or even collapsed non-proliferation architecture are at stake. I assure the Council that France is fully committed to that endeavour.

Dernière modification : 19/07/2018

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