Fissile Material Production Cutoff Treaty [FMCT] Excerpts

22 May 1997

Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Thursday, 22 May 1997, at 10 a.m.
President: Mr. Berdennikov (Russian Federation)


Ms. GHOSE (India):


India was one of the lead sponsors in the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 in proposing a resolution on a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT). We had participated in the consensus reached in 1995, contained in the Shannon report just before the NPT Review and Extension Conference, but we had also expressed, it will be recalled, our reservations at the time on the tenuous nature of the compromise. Subsequent developments and the recent statements by a number of delegations indicate that these reservations are widely shared. The issue of stockpiles, the inclusion of tritium, the problem of surplus stocks, are some of the grey areas of the Shannon report which appear even more grey after two years. It is our conviction that these can be clarified if we adopt a clear work programme that places the mandate for an FMCT firmly within a multilateral nuclear disarmament process. India remains convinced that an FMCT can be a useful and necessary step, but as part and parcel of a negotiated, phased programme for the elimination of nuclear weapons. It is for this reason that we, with other members of the CD, including most members of the G-21, have proposed the establishment of an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament.

Our policies in this respect have remained consistent. We are aware that nuclear weapons cannot be eliminated overnight. We realize that a step-by-step approach is necessary, but we are also convinced, that if progress towards nuclear disarmament is to be genuine, these steps must take place within a reasonable and specified time-frame. These steps cannot be repetitive efforts to tighten an unequal nuclear regime, but must be a progression towards a nuclear-weapon-free world. This was the context, it will be recalled, in which we had also visualized a comprehensive test-ban treaty.

However, we are also prepared to start work on other items of the agenda: we believe that some meaningful work could be done if the


Mr. DEMBINSKI (Poland):


The primary motive behind my brief statement today is a sense of profound disappointment over our work programme, or rather the lack of it. It is with a sense of growing frustration - present also in the interventions of other speakers - that my delegation sees the Conference on Disarmament unable to overcome the embarrassing stalemate and recognize the grave jeopardy into which this situation puts the future of the Conference. It is frustrating to see the deplorable loss of precious time that could be put to productive use, in the interest of peace and international security. It is a frustration at the waste of scarce United Nations funds. It is also a frustration at the sense of dissatisfaction which the outside world must feel at our performance this year. Surely, one can argue that after years of strenuous efforts, resulting in two major multilateral accords, the CD members deserve time off. Of course, this line of thinking need not go particularly well with legislators and taxpayers in our respective countries. Sometimes it is suggested that the Conference on Disarmament is not an assembly line where multilateral disarmament accords are put together one after another, year after year. But then, if we want the CD to live up to its image, if we want it to retain its relevance - so far beyond question - we, its members, must say that, well, enough is enough. We have no more time to waste in the CD, especially at a moment when its two latest products - the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty - are receiving independent international status.

As we know, no CD member is obligated in the exercise of sovereign rights to accept or adhere to any treaty worked out and adopted by the Conference on Disarmament. It would, therefore, seem only fair to expect that by the same token, members would refrain from blocking proceedings of this body. After all, preventing others, often a majority, from negotiating such international instruments as they deem important or urgently needed may be construed as denying them the chance to exercise their rights. In Poland's view, we are duty-bound to reach an agreement without further delay on a programme of work that includes constructive negotiations on two issues, both with clear treaty potential: the prohibition of the production of fissile materials for weapons and other military purposes and a ban on anti-personnel landmines.

As we recall, the Conference on Disarmament resolved to establish an ad hoc committee on a cut-off; and agreed on the broad "Shannon formula" as its mandate back in 1995. So, as far as substance is concerned, the ground has been already broken. That consensus decision stands if one truly respects the rules of procedure. To my knowledge no one has ever questioned these rules, much less denounced them. Thus in regard to cut-off, we would not be starting from scratch. All we need is to take a procedural decision to name the Committee Chairman and have that subsidiary body discharge its mandate. By allowing, inter alia, for the consideration of stocks, the language of the mandate takes due account of all legitimate concerns. If we disclaim linkage, one wonders why agreement is still elusive on cut-off.


The meeting rose at 6.20 p.m.