President Macron addresses the Security Council on non-proliferation [fr]
Statement by Mr Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic
Security Council - 26 September 2018
First of all, I would like to thank the United States presidency of the Security Council for convening us today to address the serious threat to international peace and security posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for being present with us today.
The first question that comes to mind with regard to this issue as I contemplate our differences — speaking frankly — over the past year on such important issues as Iranian nuclear power and the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime, is simply: “What is it that we, the States members of the Security Council, still want to do together?”
The non-proliferation regime, which organizes nuclear weapons control to limit the risk of nuclear war and imposes an absolute ban on certain weapons so that our people will forever be protected from the horror of gas or bacteriological warfare, is a relatively recent construction that reached maturity in the 1990s. It is the result of the tragedies of the twentieth century and the firm determination of our predecessors, their vision of the good of humankind and their spirit of responsibility. That edifice is based on the mutual concessions, interdependencies and mutual trust that we built at that time. In a word, it is based on a multilateral approach to security.
Our responsibility, which I strongly believe in today, is that we owe it to those who came before us and to those for whom we are responsible is to preserve and strengthen that regime at a time when it is being seriously tested. The States members of the Council must set an example in that respect, and, in my view, stand united on this issue even more than on others, .We have been remarkably united on the issue of North Korea, most recently in December 2017 with resolution 2397 (2017). The management of that crisis, as just recalled by the United States President, is now in a new phase thanks to his initiative to engage in a direct dialogue with the Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea. France welcomes and supports his efforts, as well as those made by South Korea, which he highlighted.
At no point should the Security Council lose sight of the fact that North Korea continues to pose a nuclear and ballistic threat to the region and the world. France expects the Pyongyang regime to take concrete actions to demonstrate its genuine willingness to engage in a process of dismantling its nuclear and ballistic programme in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner. Until those actions have been taken, the dialogue must be accompanied by rigorous implementation of the sanctions decided by the Council. On that issue, we were united.
We were also united on the issue of Iran with resolution 2231 (2015), but that was in 2015. Since then, the trajectories of the signatory States of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have diverged. And yet, I reiterate, I am convinced that everyone at this table still has the same goal of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and of guaranteeing, through strict international control, the peaceful purpose of its nuclear programme. The JCPOA is imperfect, but it is a decisive step in that direction.
While a serious crisis of confidence was triggered by the reimposition of extraterritorial sanctions by the United States, Tehran continues to honour its nuclear obligations. That situation must be reinforced by compliance with all the provisions of the JCPOA and the resolution that endorses it, and that applies to all Members of the United Nations — not just France, Germany and the United Kingdom.
We must also go beyond the current framework, as I said that here at the United Nations a year ago (see A/72/PV.4). That is why I share the goals that were recalled by the President of the United States, even if we may disagree on the methods with regard to the JCPOA. I believe that, together, we must build a long-term strategy for managing the crisis, which cannot be reduced to a policy of sanctions and containment. The foundations of new negotiations must be based on, first, the framework for Iran’s nuclear power beyond 2025-2030, which is an essential complement to what was attained in 2015; secondly, the issue of Iran’s increase in the range and accuracy of its missile arsenal and thus the framework of its ballistic activity; and thirdly, on regional stability. All of those issues can be part of useful international action to reduce the regional dangers and achieving the goal we all seek, namely, that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon.
We were united on the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons with resolution 2118 (2013), but that was in 2013. Since then, threats to the credibility of the prohibition norm have accumulated. The reappearance of chemical weapons during the Syrian regime’s offensives, after Damascus had acceded to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction and declared its programme, was not met by the necessary resolve by the Council. For its part, Da’esh has used those weapons in Syria and Iraq.
In February 2017, a member of the North Korean ruling family was murdered in Malaysia with the help of a powerful nerve agent, VX. This year, on the territory of the United Kingdom — and thus in the European Union — another nerve agent was used, killing one person and wounding four. France recalls here that it shares the British analysis that there is no plausible explanation other than that Russia is responsible, and it calls on Russia to take all necessary measures to put an end to that threat.
On 23 January 2018, France launched an international partnership against impunity for the use of chemical weapons, which all States are invited to join. It also had to take action against Syrian chemical capabilities, together with the United States and the United Kingdom, and I would like to thank President Trump and Prime Minister May in that regard. France is working to strengthen the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons by setting up a new investigative and attribution mechanism, which is essential.
France will work tirelessly to unite the Council on non-proliferation issues. We must remain united because in recent years, whenever we have been divided, it has been at the expense of our principles and our collective effectiveness. It is a condition of our legitimacy as permanent and non-permanent members. We must be united also because the spread of technology carries the seeds of new threats to peace that directly concern us.
The development of intercontinental missiles by North Korea is a matter of concern. Until now, only a few States had those powerful weapons, which placed a particular responsibility on them. In the future, if sufficient control is not ensured by all and if North Korea proliferates, how many countries will have them?
In the Middle East, ballistic assistance to Hizbullah and the Houthis is a new and worrying development. It must stop before those entities destabilize a tense region even further.
The fight against Da’esh has confirmed the interest of terrorist groups in weapons of mass destruction. The threat of nuclear or radiological terrorism has not disappeared despite the leadership shown by the United States in this area with the Nuclear Security Summits. France calls for continued international cooperation, which is more necessary than ever.
France will continue to strictly respect its commitments under the international non-proliferation regime and to strengthen the various institutions that form its framework. In particular, it will continue to support the efforts of the United Nations and its experts, and will address the challenges of combating nuclear, chemical, biological and ballistic proliferation during its presidency of the Group of Seven in 2019. To that end, I call for unity and a spirit of responsibility because the non-proliferation regime is the backbone of our collective security system. We have built it decade upon decade. It is still young and requires our mobilization, our spirit of responsibility and our unity.