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About the Paris Principal's Conference, problems and prospects of the P5 process from the French side with Emmanuelle Maitre

Emmanuelle Maitre

On December 2-3, the representatives of the Five Nuclear Weapons State, or P5, met in Paris to discuss the preparations for the upcoming 10th NPT Review Conference (4-28 January 2022) and related matters. In the Final Joint communique the P5 recalled the instrumental role of the NPT. In the interview with Emmanuelle Maitre, Research Fellow at the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, about the Paris Conference, problems and prospects of the P5 process from the French side.

 

What problems do you think the P5 process is facing? What were the main hurdles during the last P5 process conference led by France? 

The last Presidency of the P5 process has been greatly complicated by the Covid situation, which has forbidden physical meetings for months and therefore prevented meaningful discussions on topics such as doctrines. When it was able to resume, the process also had to face uncertainty concerning the organization of the RevCon. Despite these difficulties, the group managed to make sure that the process remained active and especially culminated in the Paris Principal's Conference on December 3-4. Other difficulties that the P5 has tried to overcome to make sure the discussions remain constructive are the divergences between them on many topics linked to the non-proliferation and disarmament agenda.

 

What do you think about the role and prospects of the P5 process nowadays?

All P5 members seem to be very committed to the P5 so we can both infer that they see it as valuable and that they will want to make sure it plays an important role during the next Review Cycle. Its main function appears to be its ability to create a forum where P5 members can discuss important topics, especially behind closed doors, raise mutual understanding, and lift some misperceptions through dialogue.

 

What are the prospects for the activities of the P5 on the issues of reducing nuclear risks and strategic security in general?

The P5 appears very committed to working on reducing nuclear risks in the future, and this has been especially stressed by the upcoming Chair, the United States. The ambition here is to keep working in three directions. First, pursuing dialogues on doctrines to increase understanding between members, which is in itself perceived as a way to reduce risks. Two, to start working on concrete outcomes and deliverables, to add up to the glossary whose updated edition is to be presented at RevCon. Third, to engage with other groupings working on these issues, such as CEND or the Stockholm Initiative.

 

How does France see the future of the P5 process? 

France is very attached to the P5 process, as it estimates that this is an adequate forum for nuclear weapon states to tackle their specific obligations and responsibilities within the NPT. It feels that it is important for the health of the NPT that the process continues and brings deliverables to RevCons. This does not mean that the P5 has to be united on all issues or has to speak in one voice, which would be unrealistic in any case. But it indicates that it is important for them to discuss collectively these issues.

 

What are the main outcomes of the last P5 process conference led by France? 

The main outcome is probably the ability to preserve the process during challenging circumstances. Otherwise, more concretely, the P5 has been working on different elements, such as a communique, working papers on peaceful uses and strategic risk reduction[1], and will prepare side-events on doctrines and the glossary.

 

The interview was conducted on December, 7

by Sofya Shestakova, Intern, PIR Center

 

 

 


[1] At the first plenary session of EU non-proliferation conference (6-7 December 2021) the working paper “Trust and Credibility in in Arms Control, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament: the P5 Context” was mentioned.


Imprint:

The interview was conducted by Sofya Shestakova, an Intern, PIR Center on December 7, 2021.

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