NPT 2010 Review Conference

The 8th NPT Review Conference took place in New York from 3 to 28 May 2010. It came at a a crucial time for the nuclear non-proliferation regime :

- with considerable challenges : persistent proliferation crises in Iran and North Korea ; risk of nuclear or radiological weapons or material falling into the hands of terrorists ; risk of a weak response from the international community to such challenges that undermine the non-proliferation regime and seriously threaten both international and regional security.

- But also many opportunities : hope for substantial progress in the area of disarmament, with prospects for a new agreement between the United States and Russia to reduce strategic offensive arsenals and new ratifications of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) 1, as well as the possible launch of negotiations for a new nuclear disarmament treaty, banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons (Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty). There is also hope that civil nuclear energy will help us meet the considerable energy needs in developing countries and make vital contributions to sustainable development and energy security.

For the first time, the States Parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty adopted by consensus an action plan 2 with 64 concrete measures on the Treaty’s three pillars (disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy), as well as on the Middle East. That was a very positive result for our collective security, capable of revitalizing the NPT, an essential treaty.

France’s position

The NPT is above all a major instrument for collective security. It is in everyone’s interest to support it, preserve its integrity and strengthen it. Given the challenges the nuclear non-proliferation regime is faced with today, we need to work together towards a safer world so that we can accomplish all the Treaty’s objectives reconciling security, stability and prosperity. This means implementing the three pillars of the Treaty : non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Resolution 1887 3, unanimously adopted by the Security Council on 24 September 2009 at the level of Heads of State and Government, was a major step forward ahead of the Review Conference. It measured the major challenges that the nuclear non-proliferation regime is currently facing and provided an ambitious roadmap to address them.

France committed fully to the success of the May 2010 Review Conference, which was an important step in the international community’s efforts to strengthen the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and our collective security system. The success of that Conference helped consolidate the international community’s support for the NPT, in a context where the treaty faced a certain number of challenges.

France welcomes the fact that the 2010 Review Conference managed to adopt an action plan containing concrete, realistic proposals on all three pillars of the Treaty (disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, peaceful uses of nuclear energy), reflecting the pragmatic, balanced approach that we promoted actively with our EU partners. It represents an ambitious programme truly capable of helping us achieve progress towards a safer world.

As regards disarmament, the measures converge with our desire to prioritize concrete, realistic actions. They account for the three priorities of the Cherbourg action plan proposed by the President of the French Republic in March 2008 and the European disarmament strategy : continuation of the US-Russia disarmament process, entry into force of the CTBT, negotiation of the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT). They also highlight the importance of confidence and transparency, which we advocated. France does, however, regret that the action plan was not more ambitious concerning the moratorium on the production of fissile material for weapons (already applied by four nuclear-weapon States) and on recalling the efforts required of all States in all areas of disarmament.

Concerning nuclear proliferation, France would have preferred more incisive texts, particularly on the Iran crisis which is central to the concerns of the international community. It also regrets that the important issue of NPT withdrawal was not tackled. However, a very positive point is that the text on non-proliferation encourages all States that have not yet done so to sign an additional protocol 4. It also highlights the need for compliance with non-proliferation obligations and calls for a response in the event of failure to comply with IAEA safeguards agreements and for cooperation with the Agency – clearly aimed at Iran.

The final document also includes several actions to promote the responsible development of civil nuclear energy, following on from the conference on that theme which we organized in Paris in March 2010.

The adoption of a specific text on the Middle East, providing for concrete steps including a project for a Conference on the implementation of the 1995 resolution, initially scheduled for 2012, was a step forward. We all need to work to ensure the success of that conference and to create the conditions for all the countries concerned to be fully involved in its preparation and unfolding. We need to ensure that it really tackles all the problems linked to implementing the 1995 resolution, including regional security, combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, responding to failure to comply with non-proliferation obligations, and particularly the Iranian nuclear crisis.