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South Korea/Nuclear Security Summit

Published on March 29, 2012
Speech by François Fillon, Prime Minister (excerpts)

Seoul, March 27, 2012

Mr President,

First of all I’d like to thank you for the remarkable organization of this summit. I think a meeting on nuclear security has rarely been so necessary.

There was the Fukushima nuclear accident, which showed the extent to which we needed to strengthen the rules on safety around the world, but also how much we needed to establish international intervention capabilities in the event of an accident, and I’d like to congratulate the IAEA on the role it plays, particularly in drawing lessons from that accident.

There are also the nuclear policies being conducted, in defiance of international law, in Iran but also very near here, in North Korea, which underline the urgent nature of fighting nuclear proliferation.
And then there’s a third risk that demands our full attention, namely nuclear and radiological terrorism.

The Washington summit was a milestone in the realization of this threat, thanks to the personal involvement of President Obama, and on this subject I’d like to thank him for his commitment to peace around the world and, if he’ll allow me, tell him we hope he can maintain that commitment.

France has kept to all the commitments made in Washington.

We’ve overhauled and strengthened our regulations on protecting and monitoring facilities, nuclear materials and their transportation. We asked the IAEA to conduct a mission in November 2011 to have our national nuclear security system assessed. That mission related to all our regulations but also, on the ground, to the largest power station in Western Europe, and I’m delighted to say that the IAEA’s final report described our procedures as extremely robust.

I also want to say we encourage all the countries present here to commit themselves to a similar exercise, and we invite them to take part in the first international seminar to be devoted to the lessons learned from the IPPAS [International Physical Protection Advisory Service] missions; France will host that seminar in 2013, in collaboration with the IAEA.

I want to add that the 2005 [International] Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material will be ratified in the very next few weeks by the French parliament. France calls on all those states which haven’t yet proceeded to this ratification to do so as soon as possible.

We’re also totally committed with regard to cooperation. I’d like to take three examples of this.

First of all, the progress made during the G8 presidency in 2011, particularly with the extension of the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.

I also want to mention our assistance to states, in partnership with the United Nations, to implement UNSCR 1540, aimed at preventing terrorists from gaining access to WMD-related technologies. And finally, the action we’ve carried out with the IAEA to identify and report all spent radioactive sources of French origin and make safe those which could pose a risk.

We’ve now completed this identification and reporting process. We’ve already conducted one repatriation operation, from Madagascar last year. Several other security operations should be completed in 2012 and 2013, among other places in Morocco, Costa Rica, Sudan, Lebanon and the Philippines.

Mr President,

For France, there are three priority areas that demand our complete mobilization.

The first is to take better account of radiological terrorism. The use of radiological sources for malicious purposes is now a real threat which must be distinguished from the terrorist use of a nuclear weapon. From this summit onwards, we must treat this issue of the use of radioactive sources as an issue in its own right.

The second is research. We must continue developing procedures that make it possible to free ourselves, in the medium term, of highly enriched uranium for the operation of research reactors and for the manufacture of radioactive elements for medical uses. We ourselves are going to contribute to this through programmes to develop new fuels, through action to convert existing research reactors, and thanks to totally new technologies that we’re going to use for the Jules Horowitz research reactor, currently being built in Cadarache.

Finally, the third area concerns training. To promote the development of a culture of safety and security in particular, we created in 2011 the International Institute of Nuclear Energy, in liaison with all the players in teaching, research and the nuclear industry.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In order to tackle the challenges of climate change – whose consequences will, I’d like to stress, be much more serious than those of any technological accident – and the challenges of growing energy needs and progress in medical research, we can’t deprive ourselves of the advantages nuclear energy brings.

Nuclear energy is and will remain a tool of progress at global level.

That’s why we must remain unflinching in our vigilance on all the requirements governing the use of nuclear energy.

It’s our responsibility and our duty, and allow me, Mr President, to take this opportunity to congratulate the Secretary-General of the United Nations on that organization’s total commitment to seeking a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict. (…)./.

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