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21 French Personalities call for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament

Published 2 May 2017

Sunday 30 April 2017

On the initiative of former Defense Minister Paul Quilès, 21 personalities have signed an appeal to the next French President for France to join the current UN discussions for the banning of nuclear weapons. These negotiations, which resume in June, bring together 132 states; but France - along with the other nuclear powers - is absent. Paul Quilès, who tried in vain to get President François Hollande to agree, is not giving up hope that his successor might listen.

The Appeal

"After being elected on 7 May, you will take on heavy responsibilities, one of which is the defense of France. Institutional practice entrusts the president with the power to order the engagement of our nuclear forces. For this purpose, from the day of your investiture, you will possess the nuclear codes that your predecessor will pass on to you.

"We hope that your five-year term will see France acting genuinely in favour of a world without nuclear weapons, an objective to which she has solemnly subscribed to.
"In fact the chief threats to our security come today from terrorism, cyber-attacks, organised crime, pandemics, and climate change - none of these can be deterred by a nuclear arsenal.

"Although the inter-state risks have not disappeared, despite a reduction in nuclear arms stocks in the world, about 15 000 weapons continue to weigh on the entire planet, threatening catastrophic destruction. According to William Perry, former US Defense Secretary, the possibility of such a conflagration has never been higher than now.

“The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has not prevented the emergence of four new nuclear powers (Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea) in unstable regions. Despite their commitment to negotiated disarmament, the other nuclear powers, including France, have embarked on a new and costly arms race, through the programmed modernisation of nuclear arsenals (greater use of cruise missiles, miniaturisation of payloads, maintenance of tactical weapons, and the development of hypersonic missiles…) All those things tend to lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, not to mention the invisible threat of cyber-attacks and the danger of nuclear explosions due to terrorism or accident.

“It is not reasonable to keep on relying on the maintenance of a weapon which numerous military and strategic experts agree is obsolete and maladapted. Besides, we now know with certainty that even a limited use of nuclear weapons in the world would have catastrophic consequences for all humanity. How can this perspective be reconciled with France’s attachment to respect for humanitarian law and the preservation of civilians in conflict zones? Was not France one of the chief artisans and supporters of the conventions to ban biological and chemical weapons, anti-personnel mines, sub-munition weapons and the regulation of the arms trade? How can anyone still believe that the security of our country rests on the power to annihilate millions of innocent civilians?

“We do not advocate unilateral disarmament by France, but we hope that you will grasp the historic opportunity now offered us to show the pathway towards negotiated, verifiable and universal disarmament by joining some 132 other states which are now negotiating a nuclear ban treaty at the UN. This is indeed a new departure, which will not only strengthen the obligations of the NPT but could also bring into the negotiations the nuclear nations that are still absent. By taking part France would be seizing a chance to head the movement towards the objective of a world freed from nuclear weapons.”

Signed by:

Sébastien Balibar, physicist, member ot hte Académie des Sciences ; Rony Brauman, ex-president of Médecins sans Frontières, teacher and essayist ; Valérie Cabanes, international jurist, spokesperson for, « Pour en finir avec l’écocide » ; Gilles Candar, president of the Société d’études jaurésiennes ; Jean-Marie Collin, expert, vice-president of IDN ; Michel Drain, member of Pax Christi and Justice et Paix France ; Jean-Pierre Dupuy, philosopher, emeritus professor at the Ecole Polytechnique, professor at Stanford University; Marc Finaud, former French diplomat. professor attached to the Centre de Politique de Sécurité, Geneva ; Christiane Hessel ; Bernard Hourcade, research director at CNRS ; Yannick Jadot, MEP ; Alain Joxe ; Georges Le Guelte, former secretary of the Council of Governors of the IAEA ; Francis Lenne, air force brigade general (2 S) ; Bernard Norlain, air force general e (2 S), vice-president of IDN ; Ivar Ikeland, former president of the Université Paris-Dauphine ; Jean-Claude Pecker, emeritus professor at the Collège de France, member of the Académie des sciences ; Paul Quilès, former minister of defense, president of IDN ; Monseigneur Marc Stenger, bishop, President de Pax Christi France ; Annick Suzor-Weiner, president of Pugwash France, emeritus professor of Université Paris-Sud ; Thierry Salomon, co-president of the"LesJoursHeureux" movement.

Source : le Journal Du Dimanche / Europe 1

Unofficial translation: ACDN