Overall, France aims to work toward a safer world, forestalling threats to peace, respecting the right of legitimate self-defense, opting out of the arms race, and moving towards general and complete disarmament by means of multilateral approaches, normative regimes, and sometimes informal initiatives. France’s main objectives are to maintain and strengthen international peace and security, to have strict compliance with international commitments, support the international exchange of information concerning arms transfers, and to protect human rights, humanitarian law, and international stability. France is the third largest nuclear weapons force in the world and a leader in initiatives aimed at preventing and countering illicit flows of conventional weapons. Another of France’s objectives in arms control is maintaining and strengthening international peace and security. France is also major support in international organizations responsible for establishing international verification mechanisms. France also plays a big part in confidence and security-building measures designed to ensure stability and transparency within the international community.
France’s major arms control treaties and agreements include the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the CTBT, the Convention of the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), the CWC, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), and the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. Export control regimes, nonproliferation initiatives and safeguards that France is involved in also include the Australia Group, the MTCR, the NSG, the Wassenaar Agreement, the IAEA, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, and the Proliferation Security Initiative. Other arms control and nonproliferation activities that France is involved in are the Open Skies Treaty, the Conference on Disarmament, the nuclear weapons-free zones, nuclear security summits and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
France’s ultimate goal is for a safer world by maintaining and strengthening international peace and security. Through the treaties that it has signed France has been able to get closer and closer to their goal. For example, the ATT is the first universal and legally binding instrument for regulating trade in conventional arms and taking global action against illicit arms trafficking. France is a major supporter of this treaty, even stating that it was a step forward for human rights, humanitarian law, and international stability. They promote the universalization and full implementation of the ATT.
France is the fourth largest exporter of arms with 8,386 million in total sales between 2012 to 2016. France is also the third world nuclear power with around 300 nuclear weapons. The top ten recipients of France’s arms exports are: (1) Egypt at 19.47%;(2) China at 10.98%;(3) U.A.E. at 9.11%;(4) Morocco at 7.11%;(5) Saudi Arabia at 5.62%; (6) India at 5.15%; (7) Australia at 4.44%; (8) U.S. at 3.96%; (9) Oman at 2.70%; and (10) Brazil at 2.39%. Overall there is a wide range of categories of arms exported but a majority of recipients come from the Middle East region. In terms of the arms France possesses, France would be considered advanced.
In terms of security threats to France, two major threats are NATO and Ukraine wanting to join the EU. France is worried about the United States’ long-term commitment to NATO. This is only because the U.S. has concerns about European Autonomy. France is also concerned about Ukraine wanting to join the E.U. because of the implications attached to its membership. This is because Russia wants Ukraine to come back to them meaning the membership of Ukraine to the E.U. would cause problems and potential conflicts. Recently France concluded that Russia has violated the INF treaty. France and its allies have tried to make repeated requests for an explanation without any response back from Russia. This has caused the U.S. to pull out of the INF treaty which consequently caused Russia to pull out exactly 24 hours later. This is troublesome because of the type of weapons the treaty regulates, which are intermediate-range nuclear weapons.