Monday, December 8, 2008

France out front in a brace of moves toward nuclear disarmament

The Associated Press reports that a letter from French President Nicholas Sarkozy to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Mun outlines a European Union plan to advance global progress toward nuclear disarmament:

"Europe has already done a lot for disarmament…[and]…Europe is ready to do more."
French newspaper Le Figaro reports that the December 5 letter supports further (post-START) nuclear arms control negotiations between the United States and Russia, universal ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and dismantlement of all nuclear installations as soon as possible in a transparent and open way (the article notes that this issue refers particularly to Russia and China which maintain operational testing sites), a moratorium on fissile material production, and short- and medium-range surface-to-surface ballistic missiles.

With regard to a fissile material production cutoff, The Times of India reports:
"The opening without delay and without preconditions of negotiations on a treaty forbidding the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, as well as the implementation of an immediate moratorium on the production of these materials."
Le Figaro notes the intent of the letter is to “raise the debate to the level of heads of state.”

The letter carries added multilateral weight as France currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, a post it will relinquish this month.

President Sarkozy’s letter foreshadows tomorrow’s official launch in Paris of the “Global Zero” citizens campaign for a world without nuclear weapons. Featured leaders of this effort include former United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Margaret Becket who proposed last year that her country become a “disarmament laboratory” to develop the verification procedures and technology necessary to move toward the abolition of nuclear weapons. Entrepreneur and adventurer extraordinaire Sir Richard Branson is another campaign leader – having built the Virgin brand into a global phenomenon, he is perhaps uniquely qualified to again popularize the “unnatural act” of arms control.

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