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Second line of action : Strengthening the international non-proliferation regime and support for international suppliers’ regimes

France considers that it is vital to support and strengthen the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.

IAEA, Vienna. Photo credit : Dean Calma/IAEAIAEA, Vienna. Photo credit : Dean Calma/IAEA


Supporting efforts of the IAEA
, which plays a key role within the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, should be a priority, in order to ensure that its safeguards system remains fully effective and credible. This means we need to achieve universal implementation of the IAEA safeguards agreements, which is an obligation under Article III of the Treaty, and universal implementation of the Additional Protocol. The implementation of an additional protocol, combined with that of a comprehensive safeguards agreement, is essential for obtaining comprehensive assurances of compliance with non-proliferation commitments and is the current benchmark to enable the IAEA to fulfil its mandate.

Export controls are one of the tools available to the international community in its efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. France supports and actively participates in the various informal supplier country groups (Nuclear Suppliers Group – NSG, Australia Group, Zangger Committee, Missile Technology Control Regime – MTCR), and applies rigorous national controls.

Lastly, France is committed to strengthening the international non-proliferation regime by providing assistance, where necessary, in disarmament and non-proliferation, and particularly through its support to multilateral nuclear fuel cycle mechanisms and nuclear-weapon-free zones.

We also need to continue our efforts to achieve an agreement of the international community on guidelines on how to most effectively manage the consequences of a withdrawal from the NPT.

Scenes from a verification training exercise in Slovakia (2005). Photo credit : Dean Calma/IAEAScenes from a verification training exercise in Slovakia (2005). Photo credit : Dean Calma/IAEA

Support for the IAEA safeguards system

France is committed to the key role of the IAEA safeguards system, which is a pillar of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. We must support the efforts of the IAEA in order to ensure that its safeguards system remains fully effective and credible.

Strengthening the IAEA safeguards system is beneficial for all : its credibility and effectiveness are crucial to enable the responsible development of civil nuclear energy. Indeed, any major failure of a State to fulfil its obligations weakens mutual confidence and harms 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.

Within the safeguards system, the implementation of an additional protocol, combined with that of a comprehensive safeguards agreement, is essential for obtaining comprehensive assurances of compliance with non-proliferation commitments. It is therefore an essential pillar of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

The international community has set itself the task of ensuring the promotion of safeguards agreements and additional protocols. France does its utmost to support those actions and contributes actively through its diplomatic action.

Currently :
- 12 States do not have a comprehensive safeguards agreement in force ; 5 of them have not taken any steps in this connection with the IAEA.
- 124 States have an additional protocol in force, while 21 others have signed but not yet ratified one.

Supporting safeguards is a major element of French policy in the IAEA. The expertise and technical assistance France provides in the area of verification support the work of the IAEA. They can be seen in particular through the French Support Programme for IAEA Safeguards, which was officially set up in 1982.

In order to guarantee the credibility of the IAEA’s verification activity, France seeks to ensure that the IAEA has at its disposal the human, financial and technical resources necessary to carry out the mandate entrusted to it by the international community. It also remains attentive to ensure adequate funding for the IAEA’s other priorities, particularly in the areas of promotion and technical cooperation.

To help strengthen the IAEA safeguards, France voluntarily offered to make certain nuclear materials subject to IAEA safeguards under the trilateral France-Euratom-IAEA agreement 1 which entered into force on 12 September 1981. The IAEA is empowered to verify end-use in order to ensure that nuclear materials subject to its supervision are not diverted from civil uses. The European Community is party to this agreement. It ensures that the IAEA receives all the information it needs regarding such nuclear materials.

Moreover, France signed an Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement 2 on 22 September 1988, which entered into force on 30 April 2004 at the same time as those signed by the other Member States of the European Union. The French Additional Protocol helps strengthen the IAEA’s capability to detect undeclared nuclear materials and activities in non-nuclear-weapon States. France is thus committed to declaring to the IAEA its cooperation in this area with non-nuclear-weapon States, and to allowing it, as necessary, to verify the actual situation in the relevant nuclear facilities.

Lastly, like its European Union partners, France is subject to international controls on civil nuclear material. Two international bodies conduct these controls : the European Commission (under Chapter VII of the Euratom Treaty) and the IAEA.

Support for international suppliers’ regimes

Export controls are one of the tools available to the international community in its efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. France supports and actively participates in the various international export control regimes (Nuclear Suppliers Group – NSG, Zangger Committee, Missile Technology Control Regime – MTCR, Australia Group, Wassenaar Arrangement). In that framework, France is committed to strictly controlling transfers of sensitive dual-use goods and technologies that could have either civil or military uses. The export of such goods and technologies is not prohibited as such, but is subject to controls, generally in the form of export licencing. At EU level, Regulation 428/2009 incorporates the recommendations of the various control regimes, which are then directly applicable in the national law of each of the Member States. Under the catch-all clause, it is now possible to control the export of goods not present on a control list if they may be linked to the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction or destined for a country under embargo.

Nuclear suppliers’ groups

The Zangger Committee was set up following the entry into force of the NPT in order to ensure implementation of Article III, paragraph 2 of the Treaty. In 1972, its members defined a number of common rules (“Understandings”) on the export of goods described in this Article.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) came into being after the Indian nuclear test in 1974 and now has 48 members. The NSG has produced Guidelines on nuclear exports, supplemented by control lists covering nuclear and dual-use goods. This set of rules is applied by the Member States at national level and is enshrined concretely in their respective export control regimes.

 Nuclear and dual-use goods are submitted to NSG controls. Photo credit : Philippe Stroppa / CEA Nuclear and dual-use goods are submitted to NSG controls. Photo credit : Philippe Stroppa / CEA
In general, NSG meetings address issues raised by the implementation of the Guidelines and the updating of lists of nuclear and dual-use goods. Members also exchange information related to the Group’s goals. Notifications are also exchanged on refusals by Member States of applications made by companies.

In this framework, France contributes actively to international counter-proliferation efforts, including to ensure the NSG control lists are kept up to date, and encourages efforts to promote transparency of the regime. France also seeks to ensure that the achievement of the NSG’s non-proliferation goals does not impede the development of legitimate cooperation on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)

As part of its action to control the proliferation of ballistic missiles, France plays an active part in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which it helped create in the G7, and for which it provides the Permanent Secretariat (point of contact) between partners. MTCR Member States have agreed on common criteria for the control of transfers of missile equipment and technology capable of being used as vehicles for weapons of mass destruction. France took part in the drafting and development of the MTCR’s technical annex, which entered into force on 7 April 1987, and which establishes a list of goods whose transfer must be controlled by States.

As of 2015, 34 States are members of the MTCR
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.

France has supported efforts to adapt the MTCR to address new threats, including terrorism. In addition, continuing to make effective export controls a priority, the member countries decided in 2003 to include a catch-all clause in the Regime Guidelines to enable exports of unlisted items to be controlled.

Support and assistance for the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime

France is an active player in ongoing initiatives aimed at reinforcing the non-proliferation regime in practical ways in order to meet the challenges that threaten the future of the NPT. It is particularly committed to the creation of multilateral mechanisms in the area of the nuclear fuel cycle. It also provides assistance, where necessary, in disarmament and non-proliferation, and supports Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones.

Support for multilateral mechanisms for the nuclear fuel cycle

Fuel cycle technologies (including enrichment and reprocessing) are particularly sensitive because they could have both military and civil uses. Particular vigilance is therefore required when it comes to their exports, as is the introduction of multilateral mechanisms in this field.

During its Presidency of the European Union, France, together with its European partners, pledged a European Union financial contribution of up to €25 million and technical support for the creation of a low-enriched uranium bank under the auspices of the IAEA. This project, the creation of which was approved by a decision of the IAEA Board of Governors on 3 December 2010, with a first site to be located in Kazakhstan, will foster the development of economically viable nuclear energy programmes and prevent the dissemination of sensitive fuel cycle technologies, such as enrichment. The creation of this low-enriched uranium bank goes hand in hand with other initiatives which could be useful for various situations and needs. France seeks to promote pragmatic and concrete solutions which respect the markets and needs of beneficiary countries.

Moreover, under the NSG, France has committed to adopting stricter criteria for the export of nuclear fuel cycle technologies. In the early 2000s, France and Russia proposed a criteria-based approach for authorization of exports of enrichment and reprocessing technology and subject them to certain criteria such as compliance with international non-proliferation commitments. In June 2011, the States participating in the NSG reached an agreement on an amendment of the Guidelines for that purpose, strictly governing the transfer of goods and technologies linked to enrichment and reprocessing, and contributing to strengthening the non-proliferation regime.

Supporting Treaties establishing Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones and Giving security assurances

France supports the establishment of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones. Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones arise from international treaties concluded between the States of the relevant region. Such zones are made up of States that have renounced the option of possessing nuclear weapons or of authorising the stationing of such weapons on their territory. They also include, as the case may be, parts of the territory of States outside the Zone, in most cases nuclear-weapon States (NWS), who have likewise undertaken not to deploy nuclear weapons in the areas concerned.

Negative security assurances consist of a commitment from nuclear-weapon States (NWS) to refraining from using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States (NNWS). Positive security assurances consolidate these negative assurances by obliging States to take steps (relating to collective security or assistance) in the event of any violation of such assurances. France has made strong commitments in this area, both unilaterally and within a regional framework.

To find out more : See the page on Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones and Security Assurances

Combating the proliferation of the means of delivery of weapons of mass destruction

France, along with 33 other countries, is a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) for control of exports that could contribute to unmanned aerial vehicles for weapons of mass destruction.

France has also subscribed to the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC), which provides for the establishment of confidence-building and transparency measures as regards ballistic missiles capable of carrying weapons of mass destruction (prior notification of launches, annual declarations).

Under EU Regulation 428/2009, France contributes to combatting the proliferation of the means of delivery of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by controlling its exports of goods and technologies that could contribute to their proliferation.

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