Nuclear disarmament

Nuclear disarmament: France’s firm commitment

Context

Through Resolution 1887 adopted by the Security Council on 24 September 2009, the international community reaffirmed its commitment 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 (2008) of the United Nations Security Council.

In the field of nuclear disarmament, the identified priorities focus more specifically on:

  • entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CNTBT),
  • launching negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT),
  • reducing the two biggest nuclear arsenals, Russia and the United States still have nearly 90% of the global nuclear weapons stockpile in their possession.
  • enhancing transparency measures
  • continuing dialogue between nuclear-weapon States and non-nuclear-weapon States on the technical issues of disarmament verification

For more information, visit the France NPT website.

France’s action

France’s arms control and disarmament policy is guided by three steadfast principles: working to achieve a safer world and a fairer global order based on the rule of law and collective security, preventing threats to peace, respecting the right to self-defence, rejecting the arms race and moving towards general and complete disarmament.

France has always sought to maintain its nuclear arsenal at the lowest possible level compatible with the strategic context, in line with the principle of strict sufficiency.

At the same time, consistent with the NPT goals in nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament which it has made its own, France has actively and concretely committed to disarmament, nationally and internationally.
France has set a significant example. It has an excellent nuclear disarmament track record which is unparalleled in certain fields:

  • first State with the United Kingdom to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT),
  • first State to have decided to close and dismantle its plants for the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons,
  • only nuclear-weapon State to have transparently dismantled its nuclear testing site in the Pacific,
  • only State to have dismantled its nuclear ground-to-ground missiles,
  • only State to have voluntarily reduced its number of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines by a third,
  • reduction of France’s nuclear weapons, missiles and aircraft in its airborne component by a third.

But of course disarmament does not solely depend on individual and bilateral initiatives; a multilateral approach is also important. We will only be able to continue down the disarmament path if we are all determined to do so. As underscored in Article VI, each State, and not solely the nuclear-weapon States, must contribute to nuclear disarmament, and more broadly, collective security. As regards the next multilateral steps towards nuclear disarmament, the international community’s roadmap is clear: the entry into force of the CTBT and the launch of negotiations on the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty are the two priorities.

France also believes that actions towards disarmament should not be limited to arsenal-reduction measures and should also include transparency efforts which are essential for establishing trust. This is why, in 2008, we were the first nuclear-weapon State to reveal the total cap on our arsenal (less than 300 nuclear weapons). We are also continuing, with the four other nuclear-weapon States, a close consultation process (conferences in P5 format) on a wide range of issues regarding, inter alia, disarmament, the fight against proliferation, peaceful uses of atomic energy, transparency and reporting. Several conferences have since been organized such as in Paris (2011), Washington (2012), Geneva (2013), Beijing (2014) and London (2015), Washington (2016) and New York (2017).

Lastly, France considers that it is vital to continue down the path of disarmament without limiting or stifling its discussion or its ambition. It is particularly important to avoid disassociating nuclear disarmament from collective security and the strategic context. Some countries’ concerns are not solely about nuclear arsenals and postures, but missile defence, conventional capabilities and space as well. We therefore need to address multiple issues and work to improve international security.

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Updated: 27.04.18