Webinar: "The NPT and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy: a perspective from Vienna " [fr]
The Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS) organised, on Tuesday 27 October 2020, a webinar titled: “The NPT and the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy: a Perspective from Vienna”. Click here to read the speech the Ambassador delivered at this event.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is celebrating, this year, the 50th anniversary of its entry into force (1970), as well as the 25th anniversary of its indefinite extension (1995).
In view of the tenth NPT Review Conference (RevCon), which is expected to take place in the summer of 2021, the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS) organised, on Tuesday 27 October 2020, a webinar titled: “The NPT and the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy: a Perspective from Vienna.”
Mr. Benjamin HAUTECOUVERTURE, Senior Research Fellow at the FRS, moderated this discussion between the three Permanent Representatives participating in this event. Several regions at different levels of development of their civil nuclear programmes were thus represented:
• H.E. Mr. Xavier STICKER, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations Office and International Organizations in Vienna ;
• H.E. Ms. Leena AL-HADID, Permanent Representative of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United Nations Office and International Organizations in Vienna;
• H.E. Mr. Takeshi HIKIHARA, Permanent Representative of Japan to the International Organizations in Vienna.
The meeting addressed, inter alia, the following issues:
• The NPT as the framework for a responsible development of nuclear peaceful uses
• Peaceful uses: why has Vienna a specific role to play?
• From theory to reality, how to promote nuclear projects that support everyday life?
• Has the third pillar of the NPT been given the attention it deserves by the international community over the last 50 years?
• Is international work on nuclear security still progressing at a good pace after the end of the Nulcear Security Summits in 2016?
Remarks by H.E. Mr. Xavier Sticker, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations Office and International Organizations in Vienna
“It is a pleasure to speak alongside my good colleagues, Their Excellences the Ambassadors of Jordan and Japan. We represent countries that are committed to the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and to international cooperation across the various aspects covered by the treaty’s three pillars. In Vienna, we work on the NPT first pillar with CTBTO, on the second pillar with IAEA about safeguards and also on the third pillar, as we will see today. In all these areas, we have vivid bilateral and multilateral cooperation to advance the international agenda.
I am speaking from the perspective of a Nuclear Weapon State that is heavily involved in nuclear energy (France being the third producer of nuclear power worldwide and drawing 70% of its electricity from nuclear). France is heavily invested in international cooperation on nuclear technologies. We are strong believers in the NPT, to which we are extremely committed. We adopt an all-encompassing approach to the NPT’s three pillars and stress the importance of casting a balance between them. The third pillar, which we deal with in Vienna, is extremely important to us. This webinar is a very good opportunity to cast light on what is done under its aegis and on the prospects for further advancing related opportunities, cooperation and initiatives.
Let me highlight a few examples of what can be achieved. There is a tendency to narrow the third pillar down primarily to nuclear power. Actually, the other peaceful uses of nuclear technology are extremely important and relevant. They can help bring more attention to the third pillar. Are we aware enough, beyond the tiny world of scientists and specialists in Vienna, that nuclear technologies are also about finding ways to fight pests, for instance, and therefore protect crops and human health through the Sterile Insect Technique? Are we aware enough that nuclear technologies help fight cancer and zoonotic diseases? And that there are opportunities to protect our cultural heritage by combatting trafficking in antiquities and tracing the origins of masterpieces? These are areas where more attention needs to be put.
In Vienna, we showcase the results of these nuclear applications to illustrate their use but we also ensure, in very concrete terms, that peaceful uses can be more widespread and drawn advantages from in State Parties. We do so not only through State-to-State cooperation, but also with special attention the end users: communities, scientists, law enforcement authorities, patients benefitting from nuclear techniques to detect, diagnose and treat cancer, etc. Permanent Missions in Vienna facilitate the advancement of these very noble causes by making such technologies more easily available to those end users.
To conclude, I would like to stress the high importance that France attaches to the NPT Review Conference also for that purpose. France looks forward to the RevCon’s convening in 2021, which will be an important moment to take stock of the progress achieved. However, the projects and initiatives on which we work collectively are set in a medium-to-long-term timeframe. When the RevCon recesses, that work has to continue and State Parties have to plan for a horizon that goes way beyond the RevCon. We will keep feeding our agenda with new projects of this sort. Japan, France and Jordan are different but I would like to emphasize how we cooperate here: not only through governments and national agencies but also between scientists and other stakeholders. This is how we fulfil the pledges of the NPT. I feel encouraged and convinced it is a relevant framework under which we have done tremendous work.
Questions addressed to H.E. Sticker
“Has the third pillar of the NPT been given the attention it deserves by the international community over the last 50 years?”
State Parties take more and more ownership of the third pillar in the balanced approach to the NPT’s three pillars. That is because the third pillar is relevant, inclusive and creative.
It is relevant because there is a new conversation about the role of nuclear power in an energy mix that contributes to climate goals. Indeed, most NPT State Parties are also Parties to the Paris Agreement. The sovereign choice of an energy mix lies with nation states and there are different trends, some of which favour nuclear power. As highlighted by the IAEA’s Director-General, by 2030, at least a dozen more countries will be producing nuclear power. What the Director-General keeps stressing is that nuclear energy belongs as part of the conversation on the climate goals. Definitely, this is a conversation that hadn’t been started or wasn’t mature enough by the time the previous NPT RevCon convened.
It is inclusive because, even though the immediate interpretation of the third pillar is primarily narrowed to nuclear energy, there is much more to nuclear technology than this. But even if we stay on the topic of nuclear power, there are a number of activities related to nuclear safety and security that are also part of the third pillar. In fact, France is eager to cooperate with interested countries on the risks deriving from terrorism. It already has bilateral and regional cooperation, with the Sahel for instance on the security of major public events.
It is creative because another narrow interpretation of the third pillar would be to focus on the IAEA Technical Cooperation Fund, but the financial basis of cooperation is broader than that. The international community is looking to involve new types of contributors and contributions. For example, the IAEA’s Programme of Action on Cancer Therapy benefits from grants and loans from the Islamic Development Bank. These initiatives need to keep growing. France seeks to increase the involvement of non-State-contributors to the IAEA’s activities.
My message is therefore one of hope and optimism: France is looking at the future where nuclear peaceful uses are more relevant, inclusive and creative.
Question: Is international work on nuclear security still progressing at a good pace after the end of the Nulcear Security Summits in 2016?
Nuclear security has seen an evolution. It has long been contained within the limits of the physical protection of facilities, but the evolution of the concept of nuclear security increasingly focuses on terrorist threats. Work is done on this point at the IAEA and there is also more and more cooperation between sovereign nations.”