France has the world's fourth largest nuclear arsenal. In 2022, it again demonstrated that it lacks the will purposefully to pursue nuclear disarmament. It remained unwilling to adhere to or engage constructively with the TPNW.
|Nuclear warhead inventory at the beginning of 2023|
|Total inventory of warheads||290|
|Estimated yield (MT)||29|
|TPNW Article 1(1) prohibitions: Compatibility in 2022|
|(a)||Develop, produce, manufacture, acquire||Not compatible|
|Possess or stockpile||Not compatible|
|(c)||Receive transfer or control||Compatible|
|Threaten to use||Not compatible|
|(e)||Assist, encourage or induce||Not compatible|
|(f)||Seek or receive assistance||Not compatible|
|(g)||Allow stationing, installation, deployment||Compatible|
|TPNW voting and participation|
|UNGA resolution on TPNW (latest vote)||Voted no (2022)|
|Participated in 1MSP (2022)||No|
|1MSP delegation size (% women)||N/A|
|Adoption of TPNW (7 July 2017)||N/A|
|Participated in TPNW negotiations (2017)||No|
|Negotiation mandate (A/RES/71/258)||Voted no|
|Other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) treaties|
|Party to an NWFZ||No (4 of 5 NSA protocols)|
|Party to the NPT||Yes (Acceded 1992)|
|Ratified the CTBT||Yes (Ratified 1998, Annex 2 state)|
|Party to the BWC||Yes (Acceded 1984)|
|Party to the CWC||Yes (Ratified 1995)|
|IAEA safeguards and fissile material|
|Safeguards agreement||Voluntary offer agreement|
|TPNW Art 3(2) deadline||N/A|
|Small Quantities Protocol||No|
|Enrichment facilities/reprocessing plants||Yes (Civ)|
|HEU stocks||2 tons (Mil)/5.4 tons (Civ)|
|Plutonium stocks||4.9 tons (Mil)/79.4 tons (Civ)|
The French President, Emmanuel Macron, issued a joint statement with his US counterpart, Joe Biden, in December 2022 in which they reaffirmed their opposition to the TPNW. The Treaty does not, in their view, ‘reflect the increasingly challenging international security environment and is at odds with the existing non-proliferation and disarmament architecture’.1
Like the other nuclear-armed states, France did not attend the First Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW (1MSP) in Vienna in June 2022. Ahead of the 1MSP, 56 French parliamentarians argued that, by isolating itself from the dialogue at 1MSP, France would only weaken its denunciation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear posturing.2
At the French National Assembly in October 2022, a cross-party group of parliamentarians launched an inter-parliamentary network, or circle, ‘to initiate reflection on military nuclear issues and in particular on the TPNW’.3 It is the first initiative of its kind in a nuclear-armed state.
In the First Committee of the UN General Assembly in October 2022, France, in a joint statement with the United Kingdom and the United States stated that ‘Progress on the nuclear disarmament agenda is only possible if we were to have an incremental, inclusive, consensus-based, multilateral process that takes into account the prevailing international security environment.’4
- France should acknowledge that nuclear deterrence is not a sustainable solution for its own or international security, and that any perceived benefits are far outweighed by the risk of nuclear accidents or war.
- France should comply with its existing obligation under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and pursue negotiations in good faith on nuclear disarmament.
- France should urgently adhere to the TPNW. Until it is in a position to do so, it should welcome the TPNW as a valuable component in the global disarmament and non-proliferation architecture, work with the Treaty's states parties on practical steps towards disarmament, and attend the meetings of states parties as an observer.