Statement by France


Date:   7 October 1999

Delivered by: Monsieur Jean-Pierre Masseret, Minister of State attached to Minister of Defence

Mr Chairman,

At the start of the Conference on Article XIV, I would first like to congratulate you on your election to the Chair of this Conference and to assure you of the full support of my delegation.

We are gathered here for three days to study the measures that may be taken to accelerate the process of the CTBT's entry into force. France is prepared to tackle this work with confidence and determination, in the hope that tangible results will soon be achieved.

Mr Chairman,

The position of the European Union has been presented by the Finnish Minister this morning. Let me express the full support of France to his statement.

You know the great importance France attaches to the CTBT.

Indeed, it has taken more than forty years for the international community to reach agreement on the elaboration of a legal instrument prohibiting nuclear testing. Negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament to draw up a final text have been protracted and difficult, and succeeded only thanks to the efforts of all the States concerned.

The CTBT is a major step towards nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. It provides for the prohibition of any nuclear blast at whatever level, as France had proposed, and implies the end of the development of new types of more sophisticated weapons and of qualitative escalation in connection with such weapons.

Aware of the issues at stake, France decided to sign and ratify the CTBT at the earliest opportunity. On April 6, 1998, it was the first nuclear-weapon State, together with the United Kingdom, to deposit its instruments of ratification, thus preserving the momentum gained from the adoption of the Treaty on September 10, 1996. Owing to this momemtum, the Treaty has been signed at this stage by 154 States including the 5 nuclear-weapon States.

With coherence in mind, France even decided to go further by adopting irreversible measures such as the closing down and dismantling of its test site in the Pacific, of the Marcoule reprocessing plant and of the Pierrelatte enrichment plant. France thus deliberately denied itself any possibility of turning back.

Mr Chairman,

As it has been signed by 154 States and ratified by 51 States to date, the CTBT can boast relative success.

Success, since these signatures clearly demonstrate the determination of the international community to acquire concrete means with which to combat nuclear proliferation. We hope that this Conference will succeed in sustaining the dynamic of 1996 which has led a great number of States to sign the Treaty, and in further leading them to ratify it.

Success, also, given that an organization has been specially created with a view to implementing the Treaty's provisions. I would like to take this opportunity to say how grateful France is for the quality of the work under way.

Success, finally, since the first elements of a credible monitoring system have already been put in place. This arrangement, which guarantees the Treaty's effectiveness, has constantly been supported by France. With our stations, our technologies and our expertise, we are contributing concretely to the completion of a new system which ought to be operational on the entry into force of the Treaty.

In this respect, we must all demonstrate our commitment to the Treaty by ensuring that the monitoring system is put in place at a steady pace.

The completion of this great project will not only provide States Parties with a deterrent monitoring tool, but scientists the world over with an accurate and reliable tool for measuring the natural phenomena of the geosphere.

This is a qualified success, however, as the CTBT will only take on its full meaning when it becomes a universal instrument applying to all States. France calls on all States which have not yet done so to follow its example by signing and ratifying the Treaty at the earliest opportunity. In this way, they will show their determination to support a text of paramount importance to peace and security worldwide by working for the CTBT's entry into force.

France notes, however, that many States which have not yet ratified the Treaty are actively participating in the work of the CTBTO in Vienna. Such proof of interest and commitment is encouraging for the future.

I would also like to send a message to those States which have not yet signed the Treaty. Their signing it will prove their attachment to the non-proliferation regime and show their concern to safeguard the advancements gained through such tough negotiations in 1996.

Mr Chairman,

In conclusion, I believe we should keep in mind that no tangible progress can be achieved in the fields of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmarment outside the framework defined by the international community. France is deeply attached to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. It is aware of the responsibilities incumbent upon it as a nuclear power, under Article VI of the NPT. But no significant progress can be achieved as long as we have not gone through, one after another, the stages that have been defined in accordance with the texts adopted by consensus. This is why the entry into force of the CTBT is a crucial stage of the international arrangement aimed at combating the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Now that the qualitative development of nuclear weapons has stopped, the time has come to put an end to the quantitative development of such weapons. This constitutes a process grounded in a logic approved by all States by consensus. France, in this spirit of continuity, would like the negotiations on the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) to open in Geneva without further delay, as it constitutes a further, decisive and inescapable step towards nuclear disarmament.