The proliferation poses a threat to international peace [fr]
Non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction - Statement by Mr Alexis Lamek, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, chargé d’Affaires a.i. - Security Council - 23 August 2016
I would like to thank the Malaysian presidency for organizing this open debate on a topic as important as that of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. I also thank the Secretary-General as well as the various speakers — Mr. Emmanuel Roux, Mr. Gregory Koblentz and Mr. Kim Won-soo — for their briefings.
The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery poses a serious threat to international peace and security. North Korea is ardently pursuing its forced march along the path of nuclear- and ballistic-missile programmes. Pyongyang conducted its fourth nuclear test on 6 January and launched an unprecedented number of ballistic missile over the past few months, each time improving the technologies it needs to acquire deliverable nuclear weapons. As the Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan just pointed out, those destabilizing actions in violation of Security Council resolutions are a clear challenge to the non-proliferation regime, which is the cornerstone of our collective security.
In Syria, allegations of the use of chemical weapons by the regime have continued since the beginning of the conflict, despite the Security Council’s resolutions and its unanimous condemnations. The recent chemical attacks on 1 August in Saraqeb and 10 August in Aleppo, airdropped from helicopters, have again killed a woman and two children. The conclusions of the report of the Joint Investigation Mechanism expected this week are therefore eagerly anticipated. The Council will then have to shoulder its responsibilities and take the necessary measures, as it committed to doing in resolution 2118 (2013). The perpetrators of these attacks will be held to account. The ban imposed on the use of these inhumane weapons must be restored.
Allegations of their use are compounded by remaining uncertainties regarding the Syrian Government’s declaration on its chemical programme to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons: the possible existence of residual capabilities on Syrian territory only increases the risk of the proliferation of such weapons and their falling into the hands of terrorist groups. The comprehensive implementation of resolution 2118 (2013) requires us to remain vigilant on this issue. The lack of transparency shown by a State party to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction weakens the global non-proliferation regime.
In the context I just described, the risk of the proliferation of nuclear, radiological, biological and chemical materials and their falling into the hands of terrorists groups is unfortunately no longer some distant potential risk, but rather an imminent threat. Reports reaching us from Iraq and Syria on the use of chemical weapons by Da’esh underscore the reality of the threat. The security of radioactive sources in the territories controlled by this terrorist group is also of grave concern.
Twelve years ago, the international community and the Security Council responded to this risk by adopting resolution 1540 (2004). The resolution, together with the Committee responsible for monitoring its implementation, marked a decisive step in preventing the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of non-State actors. Resolution 1540 (2004) now constitutes one of the essential tools available to Member States in the fight against this threat, and undeniable progress in its implementation has been achieved. Today, the majority of States throughout the world has adopted measures aimed at transcribing the provisions of the resolution into their national legislation. Whether this concerns the physical protection of sensitive materials, the strengthening of border controls or the setting up of export-control mechanisms, the international community is vigilant in preventing nuclear, radiological, biological and chemical materials from falling into the hands of terrorists. Furthermore, the main international, regional and subregional organizations have adopted strategies to implement and promote the measures set out in the resolution.
France, too, is shouldering its responsibilities. Within the framework of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004), we coordinate the working group on assistance, which constitutes an essential component of the Committee’s work aimed at developing countries. France actively supports its partner States, including through substantial financing, in order to help them repatriate to France sources that might otherwise become orphaned.
Today, independent assessments by the 1540 (2004) Group of Experts show that the implementation of the resolution has progressed throughout the world and in all areas. But, as Mr. Koblentz stated, the threats are evolving as well, and new challenges await us. The comprehensive review of the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), which is currently under way under the leadership of Spain, should provide an opportunity for us all to tailor and strengthen our tools to better combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the risk of their falling into the hands of terrorists. France supports strengthening the operational role of the 1540 (2004) Committee, as well as of its expertise and the matching of requests for and offers of assistance.
Furthermore, France believes that the security of radioactive sources should be strengthened throughout the world, particularly with regard to highly active sealed sources. That is the aim of the joint declaration proposed by France at the Nuclear Safety Summit in Washington, D.C., this year, which was supported by 28 States. It is also the goal of the draft resolution to be submitted to the First Committee of General Assembly. Indeed, the theft of such materials, although infrequent, is highly troubling, and there could be serious consequences if such materials are acquired by terrorists.
I would like to conclude on a hopeful note: the comprehensive review of the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) affords us a unique opportunity to strengthen our collective security, to better prevent the risks of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, and to strengthen the protection of sensitive materials and goods. We hope by the end of this year to achieve more rigorous and effective implementation of resolution 1540 (2004). I would once again assure the Security Council of France’s commitment in this area.