In a speech outlining his vision for France’s nuclear deterrence strategy, President Macron touted the role of nuclear weapons in European security policy and dismissed calls for their global abolition as an ‘ethical debate’ that lacked ‘realism in the strategic context.’ Meanwhile, Elysee has yet to respond to an invitation to meet renowned Hiroshima survivor Setsuko Thurlow, while she is in Paris next week.
In his remarks at L’École de Guerre in Paris on Friday morning, Macron proposed a discussion with European states about the role that France’s nuclear weapons can play for Europe’s security, even suggested that other States could participate in the exercises of French nuclear forces. Responsible European states should take him up on this discussion — and categorically reject the notion that nuclear weapons confer security at all.
Throughout his speech, Macron framed nuclear disarmament as a matter of ‘realism’. He said: “In the reality of our world, progress on nuclear disarmament must be progressive and realistic assessment of the strategic context.” “Macron doesn’t know the reality of the detonation of a nuclear weapon. The ones who do know — the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and of nuclear testing in Algeria and the Pacific islands — are the true realists; they know the real impact these inhumane, immoral weapons can have” says Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of ICAN.
Next week, Hiroshima survivor and ICAN campaigner Setsuko Thurlow will be in Paris for the ICAN Paris Forum. ICAN and Setsuko requested a meeting with Macron to share the knowledge of nuclear weapons from survivors with him. “Unfortunately, Macron seems to be uninterested in hearing from the real experts on nuclear weapons. His team did not even bother to respond to our request.”
Macron’s speech culminated in a criticism of the TPNW, affirming that France will not sign and that it won’t create any obligations on France. He also claimed that the TPNW will never have an impact on the private sector. “This shows how worried France really is about the impact of the treaty because the Treaty is already having an impact. In 2019, the Don’t Bank on the Bomb show that financial institutions are starting to turn their backs on companies producing nuclear weapons. This trend will only increase once the TPNW enters into force.” said Susi Snyder, author of the Dont Bank on the Bomb report.
Despite the comments from Macron, the French public is strongly behind the TPNW with a recent opinion poll showing that 67% wants France to join the treaty. In addition 21 French cities, including Paris and Grenoble, have joined the ICAN Cities Appeal and urge the government to join the TPNW. “It’s time for Macron to become a realist and listen to experts and citizens” say Jean-Marie Collin, ICAN France.