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  Library Treaties Non-Proliferation Treaty, France on IAEA, April 16, 1997

IAEA Safeguards

Statement by France

1. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is the cornerstone of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. France applauds the wisdom of the international community which, in 1995, took the crucial and near-unanimous decision to extend this Treaty indefinitely. It also welcomes the Treaty's steady progress towards universality. From 176 States parties at the time of the 1995 Conference, the number has increased to 186. There are now more States parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty than there are States Members of the United Nations.

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1997 NPT Prep Com 

2. The Treaty owes its success to its verification system. Security requires trust, trust demands ransparency, and transparency presupposes verification. By assuring each party to the Treaty that he other parties will honour their commitments, the safeguards system of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) plays a crucial role in balancing and stabilizing the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.

3. Two States have ceased to comply with their safeguards agreements. First, Iraq demonstrated that IAEA controls were not sufficient to prevent a State from developing a secret nuclear programme. By posing a major threat to international peace and security, Iraq lost the trust of the international community, which it must now regain by disclosing fully its past programme of weapons of mass destruction and delivery vehicles. France hopes that Iraq will return to its lawful place within the international community and within its own region and calls on it to comply fully and promptly with Security Council resolutions.

4. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea presents another disturbing case of non-compliance with the safeguards agreement concluded with IAEA. Through the European Union, France voiced its concern at the fact that the Agency was unable properly to fulfil its mission under the safeguards agreement. France decided to support the agreed framework and the organization responsible for implementing it, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), as a means of convincing the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to comply with its safeguards agreement. We call for the rapid implementation of the reactor project in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea as the only means to achieve this end, and it was in this spirit that we encouraged the accession and contribution of the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) to KEDO. In this case, as in many others, procrastination is not the best policy.

5. Recent nuclear proliferation crises have highlighted the need to strengthen the capacity of IAEA to detect undeclared nuclear activities. Safeguards attest to the good faith of States. France is opposed to the practice of systematic suspicion, which sometimes has the effect of ostracizing certain States. It sees transparency as the best antidote to suspicion: States must be able to prove their good faith. The strengthening of safeguards must therefore be one of our common priorities.

6. While IAEA may be equipped to verify that declared nuclear materials are not diverted by States, it is not in a position to detect undeclared nuclear activities. France has actively supported the Agency's Programme for Strengthening the Effectiveness and Improving the Efficiency of the Safeguards System, usually referred to as the "93+2 Programme". It welcomes the progress made in drafting a model protocol to existing safeguards agreements. It calls for the model protocol to be adopted at the special meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors to be held next May. These new powers will enable the IAEA safeguards system to rise to the challenges of the next century in the field of nuclear proliferation.

7. The universality of safeguards is an objective which we must all pursue. The first step is for the Non-Proliferation Treaty to become universal. All States must become parties to the Treaty. All non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the Treaty must conclude comprehensive safeguards agreements, as required by article III of the Treaty. France calls on those non-nuclear-weapon States which have not yet concluded comprehensive safeguards agreements to do so without delay.

8. The establishment of internationally recognized nuclear-weapon-free zones, on the basis of agreements negotiated freely among the States of the regions concerned, entails the application of IAEA safeguards to the nuclear activities of the States parties. As a State legally responsible for departments and territories situated in three nuclear-weapon-free zones (Latin America, the South Pacific and Africa), France is affected by such agreements. By signing and ratifying the protocols to the Treaties of Tlatelolco, Rarotonga and Pelindaba, it committed itself to concluding comprehensive safeguards agreements for those departments and territories.

9. Not everyone is aware that IAEA controls apply to nuclear-weapon States. France agreed to subject part of its nuclear materials to IAEA safeguards under an agreement, concluded in 1978 on the basis of a voluntary offer, which entered into force in 1981. What is even less well known is that France's entire civilian nuclear industry is under EURATOM control, which is no less stringent than that of IAEA. France can thus pride itself on being one of the most strictly regulated States in the world.

10. France believes that non-proliferation is everyone's business, which is why it is prepared to accept its responsibilities for implementing the IAEA Programme for Strengthening the Safeguards System. It is prepared to conclude with the Agency a protocol or agreement whereby it would apply such measures of the model protocol as it identifies as being likely to contribute to the protocol's goals of non-proliferation and effectiveness and as are compatible with its obligations under article I of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. France calls on the other nuclear-weapon States and the States not parties to the Treaty which have not concluded comprehensive safeguards agreements to join it in contributing to the 93+2 Programme.

11. This broad-based participation in the Agency's safeguards system should reflect the universal solidarity in verifying the international nuclear non-proliferation regime that is essential for establishing a more secure peace and for making further progress towards disarmament and international nuclear cooperation for peaceful purposes.