United Nations Secretary-General,
Heads of state and government,
It is a privilege to be speaking here before you today and I know who I owe that to. I owe it to all those who, a little over 70 years ago, rose up against a barbaric regime which seized my country, France. I owe it to the nations who heard the cry of these resistance fighters and who sent their children, from America, Africa, Oceania and Asia, to French shores to help. They did not all know what France was, but they knew that defeat for France also meant the defeat of the ideals that they shared, that they were proud of and for which they were willing to die. They knew that their freedom and their values depended on the freedom of other men and women living thousands of kilometres from them.
Ladies and gentlemen, while my country holds a somewhat unique position within the order of nations, this gives it a debt, a debt to all those that have had their voices taken from them. And I know that France’s duty is to speak for those that we do not hear. Because to speak for them is also to speak for us, today and tomorrow. And today, it is these forgotten voices that I wish to bring to you.
Multilateralism is struggling to address the challenges of nuclear proliferation, isn’t managing to banish threats that we thought were a thing of the past and that have erupted suddenly once more in our present. Pyongyang, for example, has breached – and assumed – a major threshold in military escalation. The threat concerns us all, immediately, existentially and collectively. To date, North Korea has shown no sign of a will to negotiate. Its leaders have locked themselves into determined one-upmanship, and it is our responsibility, along with all our partners including China and Russia, to firmly bring them back to the table to negotiate a political settlement to the crisis. France will refuse any escalation and will close no door to dialogue, so long as the conditions are there for this dialogue to further peace.
That same objective is why I am defending the nuclear agreement with Iran. Our commitment to nuclear non-proliferation enabled us to achieve a solid, robust and verifiable agreement on 14 July 2015, which will enable us to ensure Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons. Terminating it today, without anything to replace it, would be a grave mistake. Not respecting it would be irresponsible, because it is a useful agreement that is essential to peace, at a time when the risk of an infernal spiral cannot be ruled out. That is what I said yesterday to the United States and to Iran.
For my part, I would like us to supplement this agreement with work that will help control Iran’s ballistic activities, and to govern the situation after 2025 which is not covered by the 2015 agreement. We need to be more demanding, but we should in no way unpick what previous agreements have secured. Look at the situation we are in today. Have we, through a lack of dialogue, better contained the situation in North Korea? Not for a single second. Wherever there is dialogue and control, multilateralism has powerful weapons and is useful. That is what I want for us all.