The NPT is an irreplaceable bulwark against the risk of nuclear proliferation [fr]
Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and Review Conference
Statement by Mr Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 26 February 2020
At the outset, I would like to welcome the presence here today of the German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Heiko Maas. I would also like to thank Mrs. Izumi Nakamitsu and Mr. Gustavo Zlauvinen for their briefings on the challenges ahead for the upcoming Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
The Treaty is one of the cornerstones of our collective security system. It is an irreplaceable bulwark against the risk of nuclear proliferation. It is, indeed, the only instrument that makes it possible to prevent nuclear war, as stated in the preamble to the Treaty, while also permitting the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Its preservation is essential, because the threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery has not disappeared, and because our world today is more uncertain and volatile than ever.
We are witnessing a troubling degradation of our strategic environment, the instability of which is nourished by asymmetries and escalations. The Security Council is regularly convened to address all these crisis situations, which are multiplying, from the Levant to North-East Asia, while the management of proliferation crises unfortunately remains a major priority that continues to require us to take action. In that context, what should be our common road map and how can we ensure the preservation of the NPT and the balance of its three pillars?
It is above all important to maintain a robust and united response to nuclear proliferation, whether by addressing the North Korean crisis or ensuring that Iran never acquires nuclear weapons. Beyond crises, we must lend our full support to international bodies, first and foremost to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which must continue to have the means necessary for their activities. We hope that all States that have not yet done so will accede to the additional protocol to the IAEA safeguards system. I would add that we must also strengthen all measures to combat the real threat of nuclear or radiological terrorism, beginning with resolution 1540 (2004), which the Council will review this year.
We must also promote a pragmatic and realistic approach to disarmament, the ultimate objective of which is set out in article VI of the NPT. Disarmament is not in itself sufficient as an objective. We must first improve the conditions of international security. To achieve that, we must also see the world as it is. The expectations for nuclear disarmament are high. However, in the reality of today’s world, decreeing nuclear disarmament will not contribute to improving our security and ensuring strategic stability, but to the contrary. Let me reiterate here that France will not join a treaty banning nuclear weapons, which will create no new obligations but will weaken the NPT standards and the non-proliferation regime.
France has taken robust, concrete measures in the area of disarmament, which contribute to unique achievement in the world, in line with our responsibilities and interests. We are committed to progressive nuclear disarmament, in which all States commit to creating the conditions for a world free of nuclear weapons, with undiminished security for all. That obviously requires the United States and Russia to pursue the reduction of their nuclear arsenals; the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty; and the launching of negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for use in weapons in the Conference on Disarmament.
Lastly, work on the verification of nuclear disarmament is crucial and must continue — but it is not enough. We must step up our efforts to reduce strategic risks and France will take part fully in those efforts. As President Macron said in a statement dated 7 February, France is also prepared to participate in discussions that would bring together the five nuclear-weapon States, in the context of the NPT, to discuss their priorities for nuclear disarmament, confidence-building and the transparency of each State’s arsenal and nuclear strategies.
With regard to civilian nuclear cooperation, France, which harnesses the full ranges of nuclear technologies for energy production and many other applications, will continue to support countries wishing to embark on that path or develop their capacity in that area. We will continue to support the IAEA by maintaining appropriate contributions, including in the area of nuclear safety and security, which are indispensable conditions for the responsible development of nuclear energy.
The NPT, given its robust nature, permanence and universality, embodies the goal of strong and effective multilateralism based on the law, towards which we must collectively work. As we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of its entry into force, I renew here our call for members to move forward together towards the strengthening of the multilateral security framework, of which the NPT is one of the pillars. They should rest assured of France’s resolute commitment in that regard, alongside all those who wish to embark on that path in good faith.