Conference on Disarmament - Statement by Ambassador Yann Hwang - 13/08/2020

Statement by Ambassador Yann Hwang
Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament
Geneva, 13 August 2020

Mr. President,

Allow me to welcome your assumption of the presidency of the Conference on Disarmament, as well as your efforts leading up to today’s meeting.

This session certainly does not meet the expectations of many member States. For our part, we would have preferred to dedicate this session to in-depth thematic discussions related to the CD agenda. In an ideal world, we would have preferred to implement a programme of work that would have been agreed at the beginning of the year. But the fact remains that the CD is the only disarmament forum meeting at a time of drastic slowdown in our multilateral disarmament agenda, and that in itself is good news.

In this regard, we have taken note of the information recently distributed to member States by the CD secretariat on the state of the Conference’s finances. We are surprised by the announcement that the remaining budget for 2020 would at best finance only 4 hybrid 2-hour meetings. These announcements are not supported by any tangible or quantified explanation.

We would therefore like the President and the P6 to request the CD Secretariat, in liaison with UNOG, to prepare a precise overview of the financial situation of the CD, including details of the overall budget of the CD, the expenditures and savings made and the estimates for this year. We have the right to demand greater transparency on the CD’s accounts and, as my colleague from the Netherlands said earlier, a fait accompli is not acceptable.

As the third part of the CD for this year is coming to an end, allow me now to take a step back and give you some considerations for the CD’s 2021 horizon.

The year 2021 will open with a much-awaited key event, the NPT Review Conference, which we hope can be held in the best possible conditions, taking into account the health context. The NPT, the pillar of the non-proliferation regime, serves our collective security, and the central challenge will be to reaffirm its authority and primacy. On the 50th anniversary of its entry into force, we must recognize that this treaty is an undeniable success. The NPT is the most universal treaty in the world. It is the only treaty that makes it possible to prevent the nuclear war while bringing everyone the benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

As the threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery has increased since the last NPT Review Conference, it is important to work to protect and strengthen the non-proliferation regime and to preserve the NPT as its cornerstone.

France will do so by following the road map set out below, in accordance with article VI of the NPT:

- By defending the logic of disarmament that serves global security and stability. In this regard, France has a record that is unique in the world, in accordance with its responsibilities and interests, having irreversibly dismantled its land-based nuclear component, its nuclear testing facilities and its facilities for the production of fissile material for weapons, and reduced the size of its arsenal, which today stands at less than 300 nuclear weapons. All these decisions are consistent with our rejection of any arms race and the maintenance of our format of nuclear deterrence at a level of strict sufficiency.

This exemplary record gives France the legitimacy to demand concrete gestures towards global, progressive, credible and verifiable disarmament.

- France continues to advocate the launching without further delay of negotiations in the CD on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for weapons, on the basis of document CD 1299 and the mandate contained therein, as well as the preservation and universalization of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty;

- We will continue the work on the verification of nuclear disarmament in the relevant fora and will continue our cooperation, in particular with Germany, with which we have conducted a ground-breaking field exercise;

- We will seek to initiate concrete work for the reduction of strategic risks, since the uncontrolled escalation of a local conflict into a major war is one of the most worrying scenarios today, which a series of simple and common sense measures could effectively prevent;

- At the same time, France will continue its efforts to develop an international arms control agenda in which Europeans have to make their voice heard. The end of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the uncertainties about the future of the New Start Treaty, the crisis of the conventional arms control regime in Europe suggest the possibility of pure military and nuclear competition, without constraints, by 2021, such as we have not seen since the late 1960s. In this respect, it is essential to extend the New Start Treaty beyond 2021 and to start discussions, after the demise of the INF Treaty, on an instrument capable of ensuring strategic stability on the European continent;

- Finally, France will play its part in relaunching the P5 process, in order to deepen the implementation of the agreed roadmap, in particular on the exchange of doctrines and the reduction of strategic risks. This discussion should aim to strengthen stability between nuclear-weapon states and reduce the risks of unintended escalation in the event of a conflict.

Thank you Mr President.

publié le 14/09/2020

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