Nuclear disarmament

Friday, 13 November 1998

Mrs. Bourgois (France) (interpretation from French): France will vote against draft resolution A/C.1/53/L.48/Rev.1, entitled "Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world: the need for a new agenda".

During the debate I explained why we view this draft resolution as unrealistic and inappropriate. It is unrealistic because it disregards the facts, especially the considerable bilateral and unilateral efforts made by nuclear-weapon Powers in the context of their commitments under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). It is inappropriate because it seeks, by proposing a new conference and a new agenda, to call into question the achievements of the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to cast doubt on the strengthened review process, to which we are firmly committed.

Moreover, a future special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament will provide an opportunity for comprehensive consideration of all disarmament issues. France would want the special session to take place in 2001.

To continue the process of nuclear disarmament on the basis of article VI of the NPT requires serious, patient work based on a realistic assessment of the risks and threats we face. In that connection, it is unacceptable to us that the draft resolution calls into question the principle of nuclear deterrence. Deterrence remains the fundamental element of French defence strategy and an assurance against any threat to our vital interests, no matter what its source or form. It is also a fundamental element in the doctrine of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

France is determined to fulfil its commitments under article VI of the NPT: putting an end to the nuclear arms race once and for all, negotiating effective measures of nuclear disarmament and working towards general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control. Because of our desire for international peace and security we must omit none of these elements. For the present, a priority goal must be to negotiate a fissile materials cut-off treaty.

For these reasons my delegation will vote against draft resolution A/C.1/53/L.48/Rev.1, which runs counter to those principles.