Overall principles

“Resolving to seek a safer world for all and to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons, in accordance with the goals of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), in a way that promotes international stability, and based on the principle of undiminished security for all”

Resolution 1887 1 adopted by the Security Council on 24 September 2009.

Action for peace, collective security and progress on disarmament

France sets its policies within the framework of the United Nations Charter, and respect for the inherent right to self-defence, both individual and collective, which it enshrines. In the exercise of that right, France promotes those options most conducive to the strengthening of international security and stability. It encourages all members of the international community to act likewise, and to progress towards improving the international security situation and the conditions for general and complete disarmament.

With this in mind, France has consistently refused to take part in the arms race, irrespective of the strategic environment. In accordance with the principle of strict sufficiency, the French arsenal, which guarantees the credibility of our deterrent, is maintained at the lowest possible levelcompatible with the strategic environment and the foreseeable development of the threat.

France has always considered that progress in the field of disarmament is linked to developments in the international security context. An international climate characterized by more peaceful relations between States makes the task of disarmament easier. Conversely, increased tensions and crises tend to slow progress towards disarmament. France is convinced that there can be no disarmament without collective security and no collective security without disarmament. France works determinedly to ensure that the “virtuous” relationship between disarmament and collective security can continue. It wishes to advance simultaneously on all these fronts, with the same ambition.

This means first and foremost working to create a safer international context, addressing the considerable and pressing issues that affect our security – a top priority being States sanctioned by the United Nations for violating their international obligations.

This also requires that we all advance together down the disarmament path, without limiting or stifling our reflection and our ambition. We must first address multiple issues including nuclear disarmament, conventional disarmament, chemical and biological disarmament and space.

It is likewise crucial that we make multilateralism effective because it is clear that today’s challenges call for comprehensive, collective and coordinated responses. This requires that we enhance multilateral institutions and instruments, pursue our efforts to settle regional crises and develop strategic dialogue among the main actors.

Bringing an end to proliferation

Thanks to the NPT, nuclear proliferation has for the most part been contained so far. Major progress has been made, especially in the 1990s : ex-USSR States’ renunciation of nuclear weapons, Brazil and Argentina’s halting their military nuclear programmes and their accession to the NPT. At the same time, South Africa then Libya, in a context of international sanctions and the United States opening up to dialogue, abandoned their respective programmes.

The risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery has however recently been back in the news, with the Iran and North Korea proliferation crises. This is compounded by the risk that this type of weapons could be used in terrorist activities.

Given its commitment to the goal of general and complete disarmament, France considers it essential to stop this from happening before global security architecture is affected. Described as a “threat to international peace and security” in UNSC Resolution 1540 2 of 28 April 2004, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery endangers the security equilibrium at regional and global levels. In the fight against proliferation, a global approach is imperative.

“There is also an urgent need to combat the greatest threat to global stability : I mean the proliferation of nuclear weapons.”

François Hollande, President of the French Republic
General debate, 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, 25 September 2012