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Cluster 2

New York, le 13 mai 1999

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(Unofficial translation provided by the Mission of France)


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Mr. Chairman,

The Non-Proliferation Treaty is the cornerstone of the nuclear weapons nonproliferation regime. This legal instrument, now almost unanimously recognized by the international community, draws its strength from this universality. It also draws strength from the verification regime established at the beginning of the 19705 via the comprehensive safeguards system.

We know the difficulties this system faced and the shortcomings it suffered., in as much as the comprehensive safeguards system made no provision for inspecting facilities thought to be housing material not reported to the IABA. Nor did it contain any instruments for controlling proliferation activities not involving any nuclear materials. For want of effective means, the system's whole credibility was undermined.

The international community realized these difficulties and has overcome them. After tough negotiations, it has reached agreement on a model additional protocol to the safeguards agreements, and this was adopted by the IAEA ' s Board of Governors on May 15, 1997.

This decision is of considerable importance for the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The strengthened safeguards program does not merely complete the previously existing system, it forms part of a new outlook that confers very extensive powers of investigation on the IAEA. The sole aim of those powers is to limit the risks of nuclear proliferation to the greatest possible extent, and to give the international community the stability it rightly expects.

The example of North Korea, and the concerns it continues to arouse. sufficiently demonstrate the need to provide the IAEA with the practical means effectively to discharge its verification obligations. It also shows the importance of satisfactory cooperation among the States concerned. With that in mind, France calls upon North Korea to abide by the undertakings it has given with regard to the verification of nuclear sites. It is indispensable that the IAEA be able to ascertain the history 6f North Korea's nuclear activities, in order to determine whether fissile material that could be put to military uses has been diverted, and how much. In his letter to the UN Secretary-General of October 9, 1998, the Director General of the Agency wrote: "The Agency is still not in a position to verify the, accuracy and exhaustiveness of the initial report of the DPRK on the nuclear materials inventory." To the Board of Governors in March of this year, he stated that the situation was still unchanged. This worrying situation should not be allowed to endure any longer.

Similarly in Iraq, whereas the IAEA has, in its own words, arrived at I~ coherent view of Iraq's military nuclear programme," it is highly regrettable that all cooperation between the Agency's inspectors and that country has been broken off. The present situation gives us the worst of all worlds, in that there is no longer any control. The latest report of the IAEA makes this clear when it writes: "since December 16, 1998 (...) the IAEA has no longer been in a position to apply its mandate in Iraq in keeping with the Resolutions of the Security Council. It is therefore incapable of flirnishing any assurances whatever as to Iraq's respect for its obligations under the aforementioned Resolutions" (IAEA half-yearly report, April 1999). It is therefore urgent to chart an exit route that would allow IAEA inspectors back into Iraq.

Mr. Chairman,

Some forty or so States have already signed a strengthened safeguards agreement with the Agency. The most recent to do so, Norway and South Korea., signed an agreement on the occasion of the meeting of the Board of Governors in March. In September 1998, an additional protocol was signed between the IAFA. Euratom and France. The United Kingdom has signed a similar protocol. The thirteen non-nuclear-weapon States of the European Union have each signed a protocol with Euratom and theIAEA. Two nuclear-weapon States have thus joined the list of States that have agreed to submit to new binding rules in order to preser\'e the credibility of the non-proliferation regime.

Following this signature, France has embarked on national procedures to ratify this agreement at the earliest opportunity. It will be unstinting in its efforts to accomplish this as quickly as possible.

Forty or so signatures is not a bad start. But it is still not enough. France therefore calls on all States that have not yet signed a new additional protocol with the IAEA to do so by 2000. What better signal could we send out, on the eve of the NPT Review Conference, than to announce that a large number of States have signed up to this agreement? The non-proliferation regime would obviously be strengthened, and with it, since the one necessarily depends on the other, the development of peaceful uses of nuclear power.

More effective safeguards, respected by as many States as possible-that would add up to a more credible Non-Proliferation Treaty. That would spell greater stability in all regions of the world. It also opens out the prospect of wider, safe use of nuclear power.

Mr. Chairman,

I want to conclude my remarks by confirming the importance we attach to safe, effective management of stocks of fissile material designated by each State concerned as excess to its defense needs. Efforts have already been undertaken to allocate these materials to peaceful uses, both in Russia and in the United States. Russia has signed an agreement with the United States to.permit the dilution of 500 tons of highly enriched uranium. France, meanwhile, has embarked on an ambitious cooperation program with Russia, Germany and Italy, aimed at reprocessing the plutonium obtained from the dismantling of Russian nuclear weapons into MOX fuel, for burning in civil reactors.

These pragmatic policies allow us to manage weapons fissile materials in the safest possible way. In that sense, they are making a significant contribution to our goal of non-proliferation.