Fissile Material Production Cutoff Treaty [FMCT] Excerpts


30 January 1997

Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Thursday, 30 January 1997, at 10 a.m.
President: Mr. Sun (Republic of Korea)


Mr. DOWNER (Australia):

Do not dissipate your energies by trying to tackle too many tasks at once, particularly if they are being tackled elsewhere. Reform, modernize and streamline your agenda, jettisoning those elements which have become anachronistic and postponing to a more propitious time those which may be too ambitious in current circumstances. By all means, strike bargains, seek trade-offs and manoeuvre in other ways to protect and advance your national, regional or group interests, but avoid "hostage-taking" and stalemate.

Focus on the arms control negotiations which are of most pressing concern to the international community.

In 1997, I believe these to be: a treaty banning the production of fissile material for weapons purposes - a so-called "cut-off" convention - and a treaty which bans anti-personnel landmines totally.

For many years, proposals to negotiate a treaty to prohibit the production of fissile material for use in nuclear-weapons - the "cut-off convention" - have been on the international nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament agenda.

Australia has long supported a cut-off convention and co-sponsored the annual resolution on this issue at the United Nations General Assembly up to and including the 1993 resolution which received consensus support. However, in spite of this consensus endorsement, which supported the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee in the CD, there has, as you know, been little progress.

It may until now have been possible to argue that other negotiations, such as the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the conclusion of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, needed to receive higher priority in the work programmes of international negotiating forums.

That time has now passed and Australia believes that the beginning of negotiations on a cut-off convention must be addressed urgently in your 1997 programme.

The wishes of the international community in this respect are clear.

In addition to the United Nations General Assembly resolutions to which I have referred, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference in May 1995 called unanimously for "the immediate commencement and early conclusion of negotiations on a non-discriminatory and universally applicable convention banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices ...".

While the exact shape and scope of the cut-off convention remain to be determined, an ad hoc committee of this Conference should be formed without further delay with a negotiating mandate based on the United Nations General Assembly forty-eighth session resolution.

The principal objective would be to cap the world's stockpile of fissile material and to provide a guarantee against the recommencement of the nuclear arms race. It would be an obvious and important complement to the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty in this respect.

A cut-off treaty would serve the security interests of all members of the international community - nuclear-weapon States and non-nuclear-weapon States, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty parties and non-NPT parties.

For the nuclear-weapon States, membership of a cut-off convention would confirm the unilateral commitments already made by four of these States to cease producing weapons-grade fissile material, and codify this commitment into a general ban on such production. It would also place under safeguards a number of plants which have been excluded under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

For the so-called "threshold States", it would mean ceasing any production of fissile material suitable for use in nuclear weapons, and opening up their nuclear facilities to international verification.

For the majority of countries which, like Australia, are non-nuclear-weapon States party to the NPT, a cut-off convention would not require any additional safeguards or verification measures. But it would provide an additional guarantee as well as a reassurance that the world is headed in the direction of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.

Indeed, the report of the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons identified a cut-off convention as an important reinforcing step along this road which should be undertaken as a matter of urgency.

Mr. AKRAM (Pakistan):

Like most other members of this Conference, Pakistan attaches the highest importance to opening negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on nuclear disarmament. Throughout the past year, the Group of 21 has repeatedly affirmed its formal proposal for the establishment of an ad hoc committee to open negotiations on nuclear disarmament.

With the end of the cold war, there is now an unprecedented opportunity to renounce and eliminate nuclear weapons. Indeed, some successes have been achieved: START-I and II, the NPT's indefinite extension, and the CTBT's conclusion.

Nevertheless, the nuclear threat may now be escalating, rather than declining. Firstly, the nuclear-weapon States wish to retain their nuclear arsenals, even if at drastically reduced levels, "for the foreseeable future". Nuclear deterrence is now propagated against "unforeseen threats" rather than specific adversaries. Multipolar nuclear deterrence is inherently more unstable, and thus more dangerous, than the bilateral cold war doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD). Will deterrence remain effective if old contests are renewed or new competitions are opened among the nuclear-weapon States in the future? Since there are no strategic confrontations at present, is it not wiser to seize the moment to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons altogether?

Instead of contracting, the compass of nuclear weapons appears to be enlarging. A statement issued last 18 December by the Defence Ministers of one major alliance stated:

"New members [of this alliance] therefore will be expected to support the concept of deterrence and the essential role nuclear weapons play in the alliance strategy".

In our view, this would amount to the horizontal proliferation of the nuclear threat, if not horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Moreover, nuclear weapons are not being restricted to a deterrence role. New "missions" are being proposed for nuclear weapons, perhaps to justify their indefinite retention. After its signature of the Protocol to the Pelindaba Treaty, creating the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, a senior official of one major nuclear­weapon State asserted that it "will not limit the options available to [this nuclear Power] in response to an attack by [a treaty] party using weapons of mass destruction". The same alliance communiqué I mentioned previously also stated that efforts will be made "to develop on an accelerated basis new force goals to address proliferation risks". Thus, it seems that any country is open to the threat of use of nuclear weapons if it is considered to pose a "proliferation risk" - nuclear, chemical or biological. And adherence to the NPT, the CWC or the BWC is irrelevant. For, as another senior representative of the same Power stated, on 26 November 1996, during the BW Review Conference: "surely we know, based on experience, the membership in a regime is no guarantee of compliance". The implicit and explicit threats against non­nuclear­weapon States are, unfortunately, likely to breed the very dangers they are designed to prevent.

It is not unreasonable for the Group of 21 to press for nuclear disarmament and the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. This is now not only the Cartagena consensus, but also the ICJ's advisory opinion, the recommendation of the Canberra Commission, the view of the United Nations General Assembly and, above all, the dictate of common sense and of the human instinct for survival.

The world does not have the luxury of waiting for the major nuclear Powers to convince their visionary legislators to ratify START-II and rapidly conclude START-III, while the CD collectively sits on its hands. The 2,000-plus nuclear weapons left with each of the two nuclear Powers, and the hundreds available to the other nuclear Powers, will still be sufficient to completely obliterate human civilization. Nor can the demand for CD negotiations on nuclear disarmament be deflected by incantation of the "Principles and objectives" adopted at the NPT Extension Conference. Two of the three "objectives" listed in that document - the CTBT and the FMCT - are construed by their proponents mainly as non-proliferation rather than nuclear disarmament agreements. The third objective, i.e. systematic efforts for nuclear disarmament, is what the G-21 is proposing for negotiations in the CD. Is it seriously contemplated that nuclear disarmament efforts could be pursued in the NPT review process, when its parties have failed to agree on a review of the Treaty's implementation at their last three review conferences? Is the assertion made here by three nuclear Powers that nuclear disarmament will be possible only if the non-proliferation regime is maintained designed to justify holding back from the third objective in the "Principles and objectives" document?

Pakistan is convinced that the international community can best pursue the imperative of nuclear disarmament in the CD - the only body which exists to conduct multilateral negotiations on disarmament. Nuclear disarmament is an amenable subject for negotiations; and the CD is the appropriate forum where such negotiations should be conducted. If nuclear weapons involved only the five nuclear­weapons States, they would not have brought the CTBT and the FMCT to this body for negotiations. If, as has been asserted, 20 countries possess the capability to build nuclear weapons, would it be reasonable or even wise to exclude them from nuclear disarmament negotiations? I would submit that the star-gazers are those who want this body to wait for START-II and START-III before contemplating any multilateral action on nuclear disarmament.

My delegation believes that the CD should seek to promote at least four important objectives during 1997 and beyond in the context of nuclear disarmament.

First, it is urgent to secure a legally binding international agreement committing all States - nuclear and non-nuclear - to the objective of complete elimination of nuclear weapons. This, we understand, is also the central recommendation of the Canberra Commission. We should be able to adopt a simple, short treaty which would contain such a commitment and an undertaking to pursue "good faith" negotiations to achieve the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future.

Second, we must open negotiations on a programme for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons within an agreed and specific time-frame. A group of 28 countries, including Pakistan, have proposed a draft programme in CD/1419. This proposal, and counter-proposals if any, should be the subject of negotiations in the CD this year.

The negotiations we are seeking would be designed to elaborate a programme, to identify the measures which constitute a part of the programme, their inter se priorities and the phases and time-frames within which these measures would be achieved. In our view, each disarmament measure included in the programme would be negotiated through a mechanism - bilateral, regional, multilateral or global - which is the most appropriate for that specific measure. The nature of that specific disarmament measure would itself indicate the countries whose participation will be relevant in negotiating it.

Third, the CD should also pursue specific measures for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. In this context, Pakistan is prepared to commence work on the fissile materials convention. We had welcomed the adoption of the Shannon report which reflected the understanding that the scope of the proposed treaty would be further considered in the ad hoc committee. We would like to be assured explicitly that our concerns regarding stockpiles, especially unequal stockpiles, will be addressed in negotiating this treaty. Else, this treaty, too, will be another measure for non-proliferation only. It would make no contribution to nuclear disarmament.

Apart from the fissile materials convention, there are other measures of nuclear disarmament which can be negotiated in the CD forthwith. These could include a protocol to the CTBT designed to conclusively halt the qualitative development of nuclear weapons. Such a protocol should contain a categorical commitment by the nuclear­weapon States not to improve their nuclear weapons. It could also entail the closure of nuclear test sites and the international inspection of those facilities which have been designed to test or keep nuclear weapons "operational".

Similarly, one or more agreements can be negotiated to remove nuclear warheads from missiles and other delivery systems and place both under internationally safeguarded storage. This would be a significantly rapid way to enhance international security and stability.

The fourth objective in the nuclear arena should be to secure credible, legally binding and unconditional assurances to non­nuclear­weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. Pakistan has consistently pointed out the shortcomings of the assurances so far offered by the nuclear Powers. Now it is clear that even the NPT parties have no guarantee of security against the nuclear threat. The nuclear Powers have reserved the right to determine arbitrarily when and against whom they will use or threaten to use nuclear weapons.

We hope, therefore, that the Ad Hoc Committee on negative security assurances will be reconstituted. It should examine ways and means to reassure all non­nuclear­weapon States against the threat or use of nuclear weapons. These could include technically verifiable commitments by the nuclear Powers not to target their weapons against non­nuclear­weapon States.

Pakistan has often affirmed that while nuclear weapons remain the focus of international concern, we cannot ignore the threats to peace and breaches of the peace emanating from conventional weapons.

The escalating production and acquisition of armaments by some States have created insecurity and instability in several regions of the world. Such imbalance and insecurity also creates incentives for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The attempt to control the transfer of armaments without regard to asymmetries can accentuate imbalance and the threats to peace instead of ameliorating such threats in various regions.

Pakistan believes that, in most instances, the regional approach offers the most effective framework to successfully negotiate agreements for conventional arms control as well as aspects of non-proliferation. The General Assembly has asked the Conference on Disarmament to negotiate "principles" for conventional arms control within the regional and subregional framework. This will make a useful contribution to specific negotiations for conventional arms control in various regions of the world. The Conference on Disarmament should commence this process in 1997.

South Asia has been described as the most dangerous place in the world. Apart from vetoing the CTBT and declaring its nuclear options open, our neighbour is also embarked on massive new acquisitions of offensive weapons and weapons systems. It is proceeding with the creeping deployment of the Prithvi, a short-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile, whose declared targets include Pakistan's airfields, military formations, oil refineries and factories. No major Pakistani city will be out of reach of this missile. In case of a presumed attack, our response time will be as short as five minutes. And Pakistan will have to assume that the Prithvi is intended to be a nuclear carrier.

Over the past few decades, Pakistan has been obliged to respond to the escalating steps of proliferation by our neighbour. Perversely, we have faced the brunt of the international reaction for such escalation. Now we hear appeals to us to sign the CTBT. Our friends know very well where this appeal should be directed. Unfortunately, in our neighbour's capital, non-proliferation tigers turn into pussy-cats.

Pakistan has demonstrated extreme self-restraint. This is often taken for granted. In the face of threats from across our border, in face of efforts to erode our capacity for self-defence, we reserve the right to take all appropriate measures to safeguard our national security.

Pakistan has made constructive proposals to address the problems of security, arms control and non-proliferation in South Asia. We hope these proposals will evoke a positive response from the international community, especially our neighbours.


Mr. DEMBRI (Algeria) (translated from French):


The agenda of the Conference on Disarmament poses two problems which are closely interrelated: what substantive issues should we include in it, and under what priorities should we begin to negotiate on them and under what organizational arrangements? The positions expressed and the arguments presented on this matter here and there, even when they refer to selectivity or the imperative need for an integrated and global approach, cannot be opposed because their purpose is in fact to bear witness to the vigour of that fundamental text, the famous Decalogue, drawn up in 1978 by the United Nations General Assembly, which undeniably highlights the primacy of nuclear disarmament. And our discussions, in their most immediate topicality, demonstrate the dissatisfaction we feel faced with certain achievements which, while praiseworthy, remain piecemeal in nature because they do not take into account, in a complete and total manner, the aspirations for security and peace of all human societies on our planet.


First, there is no one in this room who would deny that nuclear disarmament today is an objective enjoying broad support which has been made a priority by the international community and international public opinion. Secondly, there is no country which would declare today that it is hostile to the achievement of that objective. Thirdly, we all note that the differences lie in approaches and are by no means insurmountable.

Against this background, allow me to defend the global approach which offers us the advantage of being more rational because it avoids piecemeal perceptions, wiser because it allows for the establishment of the balances necessary in any negotiations, and finally fairer because it does not marginalize anyone; quite the contrary, it rejects measures that are not lasting and calculations that are narrow and brings all those involved together in the same creative synergy. For these reasons my delegation considers it necessary, at this stage, to give due importance to the global approach which would integrate within nuclear disarmament an instrument to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, a convention banning their use or the threat of their use, a treaty aimed at their elimination and lastly a convention banning the production of fissile material for military use.


Mrs. KUROKOCHI (Japan):


While I see no need to explain in detail Japan's well-known position as a strong advocate of disarmament, I would like to take this opportunity to elaborate Japan's views with regard to the tasks of the CD at this critical juncture, namely, the CD agenda and its programme of work in 1997.

Needless to say, the nuclear issue is a matter of major concern in the CD and delegations have expressed a variety of views reflecting different national positions. However, if I may make a simplified observation, there seem to be two different approaches on how to discuss this issue in the CD. One could be called a "blueprint approach", which calls upon, as the first step, an unequivocal commitment by nuclear-weapon States to eliminate their nuclear arsenals within a prescribed period, and then starts to work on the steps required for its achievement. The other approach might be called an "incremental approach", which tries to steadily accumulate realistic disarmament measures, step by step, with the ultimate goal of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.

In Japan's view, the possibility to achieve a concrete result lies only in the second approach. We must, taking into consideration the realities of the international security environment, agree on those specific measures which the entire international community, including the nuclear-weapon States, can support. This view was reiterated most recently by Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda at the seminar on "Nuclear disarmament after the indefinite extension of the NPT" held in December last year in Kyoto. Based on this belief, for three years in succession, Japan took the initiative of the United Nations General Assembly for the adoption of the resolution entitled "Nuclear disarmament with a view to the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons". As Foreign Minister Ikeda stated at the aforementioned seminar, the overwhelming majority of support that this resolution received attests to the widespread acceptance that Japan's basic approach enjoys in the international community.

At this point, I would like to stress that we must renounce the so-called linkage strategy. This approach, in which no agreement is possible on any item unless the CD agrees on the establishment of an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament within a time-bound framework, is certainly a recipe for blocking any kind of progress in nuclear disarmament in the CD or for that matter, practically any work in the CD. We should take whatever steps are possible, even if small, so that further progress may be built upon what is achieved. By the same token, although disarmament in the field of conventional weapons is certainly very important, further negotiations on nuclear disarmament must not be discouraged by the lagging progress of conventional weapons disarmament.

Concerning nuclear disarmament, we believe that a fissile material cut-off treaty is, without doubt, a priority in the CD. As paragraph 4 of the "Principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament" specifies, we should immediately start negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty. The three items listed in paragraph 4 under the title of "Nuclear disarmament" in the NPT "Principles and objectives" are the central issues not only in terms of nuclear disarmament but also in terms of nuclear non-proliferation, that is to say, the maintenance of the credibility of the NPT system.

Now that the CTBT has been adopted, the CD, as the sole multilateral negotiating forum on disarmament, should continue to play its role to further enhance nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. It is still vivid in my memory that, on 23 March 1995, I myself, as the then President of the CD, hit the gavel to mark the consensus decision to establish an ad hoc committee on a fissile material cut-off treaty. Japan strongly appeals to all CD members to establish an ad hoc committee and begin negotiations on a cut-off treaty immediately.

Having said that, I would like to make one more point clear. We believe that the CD should not limit its discussions on the nuclear issue to a cut-off treaty alone. We should make our best efforts to explore what role the CD could play for the promotion of nuclear disarmament. In this context, I would like to suggest that we consider the possibility of establishing some kind of forum, not necessarily an ad hoc committee, in the CD to exchange views from a wider perspective on how we can best advance nuclear disarmament in the future.


Mr. BERGUÑO (Chile) (translated from Spanish):


What is the Conference on Disarmament doing with regard to these important developments in the international disarmament agenda? Your suggestions, Mr. President, incorporate some elements that my delegation believes should be given high priority, both in the agenda and in the Conference's programme of work: the establishment of a broad and flexible mechanism for the review and monitoring of all nuclear disarmament issues; a convention on the cut-off of the use of certain fissile materials for hostile purposes; a convention or protocol to the Space Treaty to prevent the weaponization of outer space (a proposal that was made by Ambassador Moher of Canada); the development of a straightforward mandate for the negotiation of operational procedures to ban the use, production, stockpiling and above all the transfer of anti-personnel landmines (Sir Michael Weston's proposal meets this point); and a convention on binding security assurances, whose negotiation might benefit from parallel work which is to be carried out in the first NPT Preparatory Commission in 1997, where a creative approach is needed in order to take full advantage of the unique opportunity offered in the document on "Principles and objectives".




A fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT) is our next priority. The Ad Hoc Committee which was set up in pursuance of the Shannon report (CD/1299 of 24 March 1995) should be reactivated, which, inter alia, would take into account the existing stocks of fissile material. Although Sri Lanka has no difficulty in agreeing to commence the work of the Ad Hoc Committee immediately, we realize that first there should be an understanding on the full range of items to be dealt with by this body in 1997.


If the Conference were to satisfy all of its members, it would end up with ad hoc committees on nuclear disarmament, negative security assurances, fissile material cut-off treaty, prevention of an arms race in outer space, transparency in armaments, anti-personnel landmines and several other subjects. While that may be an ideal situation, we have to admit the fact that such an arrangement will not be practical due to time constraints of the Conference, and personnel problems faced by individual delegations including my own. It is, therefore, necessary for us to agree upon a realistic and balanced work programme bearing in mind the fact that the CD is a negotiating forum and not a forum for deliberation.

Past experience tells us that the CD can quite effectively negotiate one item at a time. If we stretch ourselves, maybe two, but certainly not more than three items. It is from that point of view that we have to approach the work programme for 1997.

There are several proposals for the agenda/work programme of the CD, including the one submitted by you in your capacity as President of this Conference. Sri Lanka favourably views the division of our work into nuclear weapons and conventional weapons.

With regard to nuclear weapons, in 1995 we had agreed to establish an ad hoc committee on a fissile material cut-off treaty and done some work in the past on negative security assurances under an ad hoc committee established for that purpose. In the circumstances, there should be no difficulty in agreeing on the establishment of one or both of these ad hoc committees. With regard to nuclear disarmament, my delegation would like to ascertain the reaction of the members of the CD to the draft proposal submitted by the Group of 21 for the establishment of an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament contained in document CD/1388 of 14 March 1996. Sri Lanka, however, accepts the fact that some groundwork has to be done before the establishment of an ad hoc committee. Initially, this function could be entrusted to a mechanism to be established for that purpose, which could, inter alia, determine the role CD can be entrusted with in the field of nuclear disarmament.


The meeting rose at 12.45 p.m.