The French leader, speaking in Paris on Friday, argued that the European Union faces new security challenges following Britain’s exit from the bloc.
“Europeans must realize collectively that in the absence of a legal framework, they could rapidly face a new race for conventional weapons, even nuclear weapons, on their own soil,” Macron said. He stressed that Europeans “cannot remain spectators” in the face of such threats and urged leaders to create an “international arms control agenda.”
Noting that France had already reduced its number of nuclear warheads to under 300, he argued that his country has the “legitimacy to demand concrete moves” from other nuclear powers to ensure non-proliferation.
However, France has also earmarked 37 billion euros ($41 billion) to be spent on the maintaining and modernizing its nuclear arsenal from 2019 to 2025.
The threat of a new arms race has increased following Washington’s decision last year to unilaterally withdraw from the 1987 INF treaty with Russia, which prohibited the use of long-range ballistic and cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the discarding of the key arms control agreement will trigger “an unrestrained arms race.” The US also threatened to pull out from the New START, a nuclear arms reduction treaty. However, the Trump administration has recently signaled that it is open to arms control negotiations with Moscow.