First line of action : Responding to proliferation crises
The upcoming NPT Review Conference will be held against a backdrop of several serious nuclear proliferation crises, in Iran and North Korea. These crises arose at a time when the total number of nuclear weapons worldwide had been reduced by over 25% since the end of the Cold War, and the international community has responded firmly with the adoption of several resolutions by the IAEA Board of Governors and the United Nations Security Council.
These States’ violations of their obligations under the NPT have weakened the international community’s confidence and in the international non-proliferation regime. They can also harm the development of international cooperation in the area of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, to the detriment of the great majority of States complying with their obligations in good faith.
Test de missile iranien en 2010. Crédit photo = AFP Photo/Vahid Reza Alaei-Ho
The Iranian nuclear crisis, which began in 2002 when it was discovered that Iran was developing a clandestine nuclear programme, is emblematic in that respect. Indeed, Iran continued sensitive nuclear activities for more than 10 years, particularly in the area of heavy water and uranium enrichment, with no credible civil use and in violation of six Security Council resolutions. It has also refused to answer the questions asked by the IAEA since 2011 on the possible military dimensions (PMD) of its programme. Faced with this crisis, France and its EU/E3+3 partners (United Kingdom, Germany, United States, Russia and China) have always pursued a clear goal : guaranteeing the exclusively peaceful purposes of the Iranian nuclear programme with an appropriate method combining openness to dialogue and firmness. That dual-track approach has borne fruit, particularly with the impact of stronger international sanctions since 2010, in bringing Iran back to the negotiating table and achieving the conclusion of an interim agreement on 24 November 2013, freezing the most concerning aspects of the Iranian nuclear programme. For more than a year now, the Group of Six and Iran have been negotiating a long-term agreement which should bring a definitive solution to this proliferation crisis.
The Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul. Photo credit : AFP PHOTO/JUNG YEON-JE
France also strongly condemned the nuclear test announced by North Korea in 2006, 2009 and 2013, as well as its missile launches. France welcomed the unanimous adoption in 2013 of Security Council resolutions 2087 and 2094, strengthening international sanctions against the North Korean regime. France urges North Korea to abstain from any action that might aggravate tension and to comply without delay with the UN Security Council resolutions demanding a complete, irreversible and verifiable dismantling of nuclear facilities and compliance with NPT obligations. North Korea needs to shed full light on its past and present nuclear activities, including in the area of enrichment, and re-establish access to its national territory for IAEA inspectors. It must also put an end to all activities supporting proliferation abroad in the nuclear and ballistic areas.
These crises show that it is essential to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime based on the NPT in order to guarantee international peace and security. Only a prompt, unambiguous response to discourage those who wish to develop nuclear activities for non-peaceful purposes will guarantee the credibility of the non-proliferation regime and convince all countries to comply with its rules. It also provides guarantees as to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and encourages the development of the international cooperation provided for in Article IV of the NPT. Concluding a robust agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue would, therefore, be an important step forward, constituting not only a crucial factor for stability in a region affected by numerous crises, but also a major contribution to the international non-proliferation regime, during the year of the NPT Review Conference.