June 20, 2024

News : French President wants to re-launch nuclear disarmament

Sarkozy wants to re-launch nuclear disarmament
Le Figaro December 8 2008

Le Figaro was able to see the letter that the President wrote to the Secretary General of the UN, in the name of the EU, to outline a series of initiatives concerning nuclear weapons.

The great French efforts on nuclear disarmament date back to the Mitterrand years (the late adoption of the NPT in 1992.) In an unprecedented initiative, it is as a representative of the EU that Mr Sarkozy proposes a series of measures to Secretary Bank Ki Moon on a letter that will be made public today.

The proposal is the result of a consultation of the 27 [EU countries] since the beginning of the French presidency of the EU.  The proposals still have to be validated by the General Affairs Council of the EU in Brussels today, before they can be endorsed by the European Summit at the end of this week. Regarding disarmament, especially the nuclear kind, “Europe has already done a lot” states Sarkozy in his letter “Conscious that her security also benefits by pursuing Global disarmament efforts, Europe is ready to do more.”

The letter outlines 7 “concrete and realistic” initiatives, some of which the President had already mentioned in a speech he gave last June in Cherbourg and also in one last September at the UN General Assembly. But at this particular timing-at such an important moment for the EU–their resonance is deeper.  The date is not insignificant: In the peak of the French Presidency of the EU and while Barack Obama–also overtly eager to advance in the area of nuclear disarmament–is about to take over the White House.  All of this makes this a particularly well chose moment.

A series of “bad students”

An important event is about to take place, in 2010, there will be a review of the NPT. Paris is hoping this will mark a re-launch of nuclear disarmament talks, which have been slow since international negotiations in the 80s. There’s much mention of “bad students”: China, India, Pakistan, Syria, and North Korea.  Also on the agenda are the United States and Russia, who account for over 90% of the nuclear weapons in the world. In this perspective, “The objective is to give the issue prominence at the level of world leaders” say people in the administration. “It’s not about un-inventing the nuclear bomb or relinquishing any form of dissuasion, but about making pragmatic propositions so that we can create an environment of trust and transparency,” the source added.

Measures of Transparency

Among the proposals one can find the universal ratification of the CTBT (1996) which was signed but not ratified by countries like India, China, and the US–an initiative pushed back by Congress but to which Barack Obama has been favorable.  This ratification should come with “dismantling, as soon as possible, of all nuclear installations, in an open and transparent fashion.”

Another proposal involves a moratorium on the production of fissile material and fuels still produced by China (at the Diwopu site) India, and Pakistan. The Europeans also prescribe that “nuclear power must put forth measures that show trust and transparency” as well as undertaking more “post-Start” negotiations between Russia and the US in order to reduce arsenals.  These negotiations have not gone very far in a long while and there are new tensions between the US-Russia. Also, recently Europe, with Sarkozy as an emissary, has issued a call to these two important partners so that they start discussing disarmament again.

Alain Barulet, La Figaro

December 8 2008

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