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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 46, May 2000

Presentation of French Arms Control Report

'Presentation of Report on France's Action on Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.' Joint Press Conference by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Anne Gazeau-Secret and Defense Ministry Spokesperson Jean-François Bureau, Paris, April 26, 2000

Remarks by Gazeau-Secret

"For the first time, thanks to this initiative in which the three departments cooperated - the Defense Ministry, the SGDN [General Secretariat for National Defense], and Foreign Ministry - we have a complete synthesis of French policy on disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control. The French authorities thought this official document was necessary in the interest of transparency and to illustrate what we believe are the exemplary results France has achieved in this area. Transparency because while France is resolutely involved in helping to strengthen international law in disarmament and non-proliferation, it seemed only fair to present with maximum openness the efforts we have made ourselves over the last several years. We are convinced that the major treaties that have been reached by the international community - I'm referring to the NPT, the CTBT, the convention banning chemical weapons, and the biological convention - are instruments par excellence for setting up a consolidated, universal system against proliferation in all sectors - nuclear and other. … The year 2000 [NPT] review conference is an important meeting for the international community. It affords us an opportunity to review all the issues related to disarmament and non-proliferation. So it was an ideal time to come out with a complete picture of France's action.

Actually, we have some very solid results to present to the public. I'll make a distinction between the unilateral and the multilateral levels. At the unilateral level the report shows…that France has taken some very significant measures: our nuclear forces have been reduced in volume and our nuclear test center and installations for producing fissile material have been dismantled. ... At the multilateral level we're taking a key part in the disarmament negotiations. First, we were very active in the CTBT negotiations, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which was recently ratified by Russia. We took a very active part in the entry into force of the conventions on anti-personnel mines and banning chemical weapons. The Paris Conference was held in Paris precisely because France had an important part in the negotiations on the convention banning chemical weapons. In the European Union France also took the initiative, along with the United Kingdom, in 1998 for the adoption of a European code of conduct on arms exports, and together with our European partners we are endeavoring to achieve common European positions on all these issues.

At a time when troubling developments suggest the arms race may be starting again and bringing into question the efforts of these past 50 years, we think it's important to stress more than ever that France is absolutely determined to work for peace, to revive the dynamics, to recreate the virtuous circle of non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament, and provide a strong stimulus to international cooperation. …"

Remarks by Bureau

"[T]he document we're presenting today is the result of work whose interest and importance we fully realized. For the Defense Ministry, it is particularly significant. I'd like to go back a moment to the work under the direction of the General Secretariat for National Defense. It involved, as far as the Defense Ministry is concerned, the delegation for strategic affairs, the joint staff of the armed forces, the general delegation for armaments, and on some questions…the military applications delegation of the Atomic Energy Commission [CEA], among others. This is just to show you right now the format for the whole range of arms control and disarmament issues for the Defense Ministry. You can see from this brief list that none of the Defense Ministry's major departments was spared, if I may call it that, none was excluded from this endeavor, this step. The work meets a need. It also satisfies a conviction.

The need of course is to provide the entire decision-making process of the French authorities, under the leadership of the Foreign Ministry, with all the evaluations, expertise and practical knowledge that come under the Defense Ministry. Let me mention a few of the things we've done which illustrate the growing importance of this process over the past ten years.

One: establishing the delegation for strategic affairs [DAS] in 1992. It's an entity whose functions are obviously political and military in nature, i.e. it interfaces on many of the issues we're discussing today with the Foreign Ministry's department for strategic affairs, security and disarmament, headed by Régis de Belenet, with which it has permanent contact. In the context of its missions, the delegation for strategic affairs devotes a large part of its activities to the whole range of questions involving arms control and disarmament. This is one of the permanent chapters in our work with our allies and closest partners, and the DAS provides the stimulus for everything that's done at the Defense Ministry. Another element concerning the DAS, whose functions we discussed in a recent report on the arms export policy submitted to Parliament, [is that] the delegation for strategic affairs is now in charge of all aspects of monitoring exports and technology transfers linked to armaments, in other words, it is the Defense Ministry's expert [representative] on these issues for the inter-ministerial commission on the export of war matériel, which answers to the General Secretary for National Defense [and] the Prime Minister. Consequently, the monitoring function which it has assumed strengthens…its mission in the areas of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.

Two: the armed forces joint staff. Ten years ago, arms-control issues were the province of three officers in one office. Today, it's a division of 30 officers. This is quite significant and important. We have 30 officers permanently engaged in coordinating the actions of a great many other officers answering to the chief of staff and participating as experts and military advisers in a great many negotiations, forums, bodies, colloquia, seminars, etc. The French monitoring unit…was set up in 1990. Its main task is to make sure the conditions for implementing agreements are satisfactory, to check on their 'verifiability' and verification. Ninety individuals are permanently assigned to the verification of arms control and disarmament agreements. Sixty are inspectors who work for France and also on behalf of the multilateral forums which ask them to do verification tasks. …

To sum up the situation in the Defense Ministry, we have three main areas of activity: political and military, the DAS; military and operational expertise, the joint staff; scientific and technical expertise, the general delegation for armaments and the role per se of the military applications department [DAM] of the CEA for everything pertaining to nuclear activities. DAM played an important role in implementing the measures dismantling the Pacific test sites and setting up technical networks required by the verification organization of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. … So we have these three areas coordinating their efforts and providing expertise, opinions and our own evaluations for the Defense Ministry.

Just a word about what our main principle is, on which our conviction is grounded. Defense policy is an aspect of security policy, and our security policy is a key element in international security. Thus there is a complete correlation and convergence on one hand between the security policy which is pursued and which is obviously intended to protect our interests, and on the other, the strengthening of international security. That is why the principle of sufficiency, which is mentioned frequently in the report, is a fundamental aspect of our conception of arms control and disarmament. The Foreign Ministry spokesperson referred quite rightly to the considerable changes that have been made to France's military apparatus in the last ten years. The first chapter of the report will give you full details on this. It applies to the nuclear component, true, and it's rather significant, and I don't believe that other states have made the kind of effort France has to limit their nuclear capabilities to the bare level of sufficiency required. It's also true, more generally, with regard to the whole format of the armed forces, which is covered in detail in the report. There is a definite convergence between our security policy and our contribution to international security. I would simply say that we believe that policy on arms control and disarmament is a vital element in international and strategic stability and thus contributes to our security, like defense policy."

Source: French Foreign Ministry website, http://www.info-france-usa.org/news/statmnts/tnp4.htm

© 2000 The Acronym Institute.

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