Remarks by Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, at the UN Security Council Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation

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March 18, 2024

Madam President,

First of all, I would like to thank you for organizing this meeting; and I would like to thank the Secretary-General and the other speakers for their briefings.

We come together in a context of unprecedented weakening of arms control and non-proliferation instruments.

Russia’s irresponsible rhetoric, in the context of its war of aggression against Ukraine, reminds us of the imperative of preventing nuclear war and the arms race. France reiterates its attachment to the P5 statement of January 3, 2022, which affirms that such a war cannot be won and must never be fought. We call upon all nuclear weapon states to adhere to it.

France stands determined to work towards the ultimate goal of a world free of nuclear weapons, with undiminished security for all. The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) remains the essential instrument to this end.

First and foremost, nuclear disarmament can only be achieved through a progressive and realistic approach, based on concrete measures that take account of the strategic context.

It is vital to continue efforts to reduce the largest stockpiles of nuclear arsenals in the world. France has contributed to these efforts, by reducing its own arsenal to a level of strict sufficiency for its own security. We encourage all nuclear-weapon states to adopt effective transparency measures concerning their nuclear forces and the size of their arsenals. France deplores the suspension by Russia of its participation in the New Start Treaty, and urges it to reverse this decision.

France supports the immediate launch within the Conference on Disarmament of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT), on the basis of the Shannon mandate. France has joined the group of friends of the FMCT to promote this future treaty. I would like to thank Japan for this initiative. France remains committed to the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and supports work to establish zones free of weapons of mass destruction.

We reaffirm our commitment to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which bans the placement of nuclear weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction in outer space. Violation of this norm would be an additional destabilizing factor. We call upon all States to respect international law and their obligations under this Treaty.

Secondly, we must respond firmly to proliferation crises, which directly threaten international peace and security.

North Korea’s pursuit of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs violates the resolutions adopted unanimously by this Council. We are concerned by information relating to deliveries of weapons, including ballistic missiles, between Russia and North Korea. We once again call on North Korea to halt its destabilizing activities, and to commit to discussions with a view to achieving complete, irreversible and verifiable denuclearization.

The escalation of Iran’s nuclear program is gathering pace. The latest reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reflect the accumulation of a stockpile of highly enriched uranium far in excess of the limits specified in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Such activities have no credible civilian justification. We are also very concerned about the lack of progress in resolving pending safeguards issues. Iran can no longer ignore its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty safeguards. We remain committed to ensuring that Iran can never develop nuclear weapons. We urge Iran to come back to respecting its international commitments, and remain ready to seek a diplomatic solution.

Finally, France is attached to the safe and responsible development of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, in strict compliance with the IAEA’s non-proliferation safeguards regime.

We are concerned by the situation at the Zaporijjia power plant, illegally occupied by Russia since March 2022. We reiterate our support for the 7 pillars of the IAEA and the five principles set out by the Director General to guarantee the safety of this plant. We call on Russia to put an end to the militarization of this plant and stop fuelling the risk of a nuclear accident.

Thank you.

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