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Cablegate: French Officials Repeat Disarmament Concerns

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PP RUEHDBU RUEHDH RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
RUEHTRO
DE RUEHFR #1355/01 2751608
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 021608Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7277
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHYY/GENEVA CD COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 001355

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/02/2019
TAGS: KNNP MNUC PARM KACT PREL FR
SUBJECT: FRENCH OFFICIALS REPEAT DISARMAMENT CONCERNS

REF: A. PARIS 1039
B. PARIS POINTS FOR 10/2/2009

Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Kathy Allegrone, Reasons 1.
4(b), (d).

1. (C/NF) SUMMARY: French officials, including senior
presidency staff, have once again stressed their concern that
U.S. disarmament policy might lead to political pressure on
France to make further cuts to its own nuclear arsenal,
pressure France would resist. Nevertheless, the GOF says it
wants to ensure any disagreements with the United States over
disarmament not prevent cooperation towards achieving
concrete progress on nonproliferation issues leading up to
and at the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review
Conference. END SUMMARY.

2. (C/NF) Elysee (presidency) Strategic Advisor Francois
Richier told Pol M/C on October 1 that U.S.-French
differences on disarmament are "psychological," and that,
while France supports the United States reducing its nuclear
arsenal, it must not try to impose a "demonization" of
nuclear weapons or reduce their role in military strategy.
Repeating an argument the French have used before (ref A)
Richier said the nuclear deterrent is part of France's
identity, adding that France's conventional capabilities are
not as strong as those of the United States. While France
welcomes extended deterrence and NATO guarantees, the GOF
will continue to rely on its own arsenal. Therefore, France
would reject any suggestion that it join in multilateral
nuclear arms reduction talks ("if you ask us, we will just
say 'No!'"). According to Richier, this will remain a
redline for France even if the United States eventually
reduces its own arsenal to a size closer to France's, since
the GOF bases the size of its deterrent on its evaluation of
potential threats, not on the size of another country's
arsenal, especially that of the U.S., which is not a security
threat to France in any case.

3. (C/NF) Richier said France is, however, looking forward to
talking about multilateral disarmament measures other than
arms reduction, such as dismantling testing sites or
transforming nuclear material to make it suitable for
civilian use. France also supports a Fissile Material Cutoff
Treaty (FMCT), though not one that addresses stockpiles.
Richier also cautioned about spending too much time creating
a comprehensive verification regime for an FMCT, saying that
it would be better to set up a flexible verification system
quickly to get a treaty signed without undue delay, since
France's main strategic goal with an FMCT is to stop China
from producing fissile materials.

4. (C/NF) Earlier the same day, the same message was
previewed by MFA NPT officer Celine Jurgensen (ref B), who,
along with Richier, will attend upcoming P3 consultations on
the margins of the CSIS conference in Washington on October
9. Jurgensen said that, despite some disagreements during
the negotiation process, France was quite happy with the
resolution adopted at the September 24 UN Security Council
Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation Summit, chaired by
President Obama. She added that, although France would have
ideally preferred the resolution to mention Iran and North
Korea by name, the text was an excellent model for a
potential product for the 2010 NPT RevCon. Jurgensen also
warned against any suggestion that post-START negotiations be
broadened to include other nuclear powers, saying France
would simply not disarm further in the foreseeable future.
She added that she did not think arguments trying to leverage
current U.S. and Russian disarmament efforts to gain
concessions on nonproliferation from other countries would
work. Like Richier, however, she added that ongoing P3
consultations were useful and that France and the United
States clearly shared goals on nonproliferation issues.
Jurgensen said that P3 consultations should focus on creating
an effective outreach strategy focused on both Non-Aligned
Movement states as well as European nations like Sweden that
might be willing to support watered down nonproliferation
language at the 2010 NPT RevCon.

5. (C/NF) SUMMARY: The message that France is not willing to
further reduce its nuclear arsenal is not new, though French
officials seem to be making it ever more pointedly. There is
a clear will to work with the United States (and the UK) to
advance shared nonproliferation goals at the 2010 RevCon and
in other fora, but as consultations continue the GOF seems to
be growing more worried about perceived differences in our
disarmament policies. Clearly laying out our own redlines
may either ease French concerns about the extent of these
differences - thus limiting the danger of French
obstructionism - or at least encourage the French to focus

PARIS 00001355 002 OF 002


less on their fears of calls for arms reductions and more on
areas, including on disarmament, where cooperation with its
P3 partners may be more fruitful. END SUMMARY.
RIVKIN

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