The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obliges the states possessing nuclear weapons to eliminate their arsenals. France ratified this treaty in 1992. Despite that fact, she is building a new nuclear submarine (a fourth SNLE-NG), new delivery systems (M51 missiles, airborne ASMP-A missiles, Rafale bombers), and new nuclear warheads. With the Laser Méga Joule, France is continuing research for a new generation of thermonuclear weapons. Thus she is mocking the treaty, and so lending justification to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, which she is encouraging also by her exports of “non-military” nuclear technology. Why and for what purpose?
Nuclear weapons are instruments for domination, not security. They are an immediate mortal threat for all humanity. They threaten to annihilate entire populations and to make the earth uninhabitable. When a regional or international crisis occurs, the leaders of a nation with these weapons could use them out of fear, revenge or despair, and cause millions of deaths. France alone could cause a billion. But a global catastrophe could also happen by accident or by mistake, as almost did occur several times in the 20th century. Furthermore, if the nuclear powers keep their arsenals in spite of Article VI of the NPT, then some non-nuclear states will wish to acquire their own weapons of mass destruction, either nuclear ones, or chemical or biological weapons despite these being banned by the Paris and Geneva conventions. Besides, until the establishment of the strict verification regime and interstate cooperation which abolition would imply, nuclear weapons or fissile materials could fall into the hands of determined terrorists.
Far from preventing war, nuclear weapons tend to promote war: they help maintain fear, defiance and rivalry between nations. This climate of violence “justifies” arms expenditure. And when the weapons are in existence, war tends to follow... The wars of the second half of the 20th century caused altogether two to three times as many deaths as the First World War.
Conversely, the energy and colossal sums that are now spent on the military could be used to construct peace on a basis of cooperation between peoples and raising of general well-being.
2010 is a crucial year for the abolition of nuclear weapons. This objective has now been recognised as urgently necessary by a growing number of political, civilian and military leaders of numerous countries, and by the UN Security Council on 24 September 2009. It is desired by an overwhelming majority of the world’s citizens (including 86% of the French citizens polled in 2008). But the military-industrial complex and the nuclear lobbies are opposed to this objective. Only the massive involvement of citizens will succeed in making it happen, particularly in France where too many political leaders view the “nuclear strike-force” as unquestionable and non-debatable.
A referendum is the only way to find out whether the French people knowingly accept the current policy which could make them one day the accomplices - or victims - of crimes against humanity, or whether they would rather change policy and join others in building a world that is sustainable, equitable and non-violent.
We call on the French government, the Parliament and the President of the Republic:
1) to commit France, resolutely and without delay, to a process for eliminating all nuclear weapons, along with the other nuclear states, whether or not they have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty - eliminating them under a strict and effective verification regime and in the context of a genuine system of international security.
2) to consult the French people by a referendum on the following question:
Do you wish France to propose to all nations that she should renounce her nuclear strike force and dismantle its component parts, in the context of nuclear, biological and chemical disarmament - comprehensive, universal and verified disarmament, and with a genuine system of international security?