Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction : one of the primary challenges of our times [fr]
Preventing catastrophe: A global agenda for stopping the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 15 December 2016
At the outset, allow me to thank the Spanish presidency for organizing this open debate on a key issue, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, particularly by non-State actors.
I would also like to thank the Deputy Secretary-General for his presence today, his statement and his commitment to the overarching challenge of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. I also thank the other briefers, and note that France associates itself with the statement to delivered on behalf of the European Union.
France thanks Spain for introducing resolution 2325 (2016), which it co-sponsored, and welcomes its unanimous adoption. It represents an important step that we took today in our common fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. I would also like to pay tribute to Spain’s commitment and outstanding work as Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004), which successfully conducted a comprehensive review of resolution 1540 (2004).The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery remains a major threat to international peace and security and one of the primary challenges of our times. Despite some progress, the non-proliferation regime continues to face extremely serious challenges. We are acutely concerned about the relentless development of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic programmes. The two nuclear tests and the numerous ballistic missiles this year have confirmed Pyongyang’s determination to acquire a vectorized nuclear weapon, which constitutes a violation of Security Council resolutions. Such destabilizing actions represent a grave and deliberate challenge to the non-proliferation regime and international security. France, like the Council, has strongly condemned them.
In Syria, we are now confident that the Syrian Arab Army, like Da’esh, has not hesitated to use chemical weapons against civilians on at least four occasions. New and alarming allegations of the use of chemical weapons continue to emerge. These, too, are particularly serious and unacceptable violations of the non-proliferation regime that cannot be tolerated. The Security Council must draw the logical conclusions and shoulder its responsibilities on the issue. The uncertainties surrounding Syria’s declaration to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) serve only to increase our concern. The possibility that stocks and capacities may remain on Syrian territory increases the risk that toxic chemicals may spread and be used by terrorist groups. In that context, it is vital to ensure the continuation of the work of the OPCW-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), which has been unanimously endorsed by the Council. It sends a strong message to those responsible for using chemical weapons in Syria. The taboo on the use of these inhuman weapons must be re-established.
In that context, strengthening the international community’s efforts is more crucial than ever and should be a priority for us. The Council’s adoption in 2004 of resolution 1540 (2004) was a decisive step. Twelve years later, that resolution, and the work of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) to ensure its implementation, are now essential tools. As the rigorous review of the resolution that was conducted this year showed, its implementation is making progress. Many States have already adopted measures to translate the resolution’s provisions into national law. The international community is working to prevent proliferation-sensitive material from falling into terrorists’ hands. In addition, the main international, regional and subregional organizations have adopted strategies to implement and promote the resolution’s provisions, and in that regard, the European Union has established solid plans of action.
We must capitalize on those achievements and continue to adapt to the evolving threats and new challenges we face. To do that, we must begin by strengthening the implementation of our existing tools in order to better combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and especially to prevent sensitive materials from ending up in malicious hands. We can do that not only by pursuing the Committee’s awareness-raising and assistance activities and strengthening the existing international instruments, but also by fully implementing our commitments under resolution 1540 (2004). In that regard, in 2011 France passed a law modernizing its national legal framework for combating proliferation, criminalizing proliferation activities and punishing their financing.
Next, we must adapt our response to the changing nature of the threat. In that regard, resolution 2325 (2016), which we have adopted today, is a significant step. It strengthens the resources at our disposal and, in particular, covers the risks of the growing exploitation of technological, scientific and commercial advances for the purposes of proliferation. It identifies how important it is that we focus more on the financing of proliferation and the safeguarding of sensitive materials, and on instituting rigorous controls on the export of such materials. It expands the Committee’s crucial role in assistance, improving the ways it interacts with the United Nations committees that deal with terrorism and affirming its interaction with the JIM. It improves the basis for dialogue with States by establishing a better balance between requests for and offers of assistance.
I recall that efforts to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the risk of their falling into terrorists’ hands are also going on in other forums. This year, at the latest Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., France made a determined commitment to tackling the issue of security for radioactive sources with its introduction of a joint statement that is now open to all States wishing to be associated with it. Together with Germany, we also recently introduced a draft resolution in the General Assembly on the subject, and the International Atomic Energy Agency’s second International Conference on Nuclear Security, which has just ended, has also enabled us to address this crucial issue. France also supports the work of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.
Given the gravity of the challenges we face, we must do all we can to prevent the normalization of the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction. When those are the stakes, the entire non-proliferation regime is thrown into question. The Council’s recent adoption of resolution 2321 (2016) on North Korea demonstrated that we will not tolerate that. Our unanimous adoption of today’s resolution affirms our mobilization on the issue. I am therefore hopeful that the Council can continue to display its unity every time the problem of the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction is at issue. When it comes to this subject, weakness and divisiveness are