GENEVA, 11 August (UN Information Service) -- After intensive consultations, the Conference on Disarmament this afternoon decided to establish an Ad Hoc Committee to negotiate a fissile material cut-off treaty based on the "Shannon report".
The President of the Conference, Mykola Maimeskul of Ukraine, read out the text of the decision (CD/1547): "The Conference on Disarmament decides to establish under item 1 of its agenda entitled 'Cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament' an Ad Hoc Committee which shall negotiate, on the basis of the report of the Special Coordinator (CD/1299) and the mandate contained therein, a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. The Ad Hoc Committee shall present a report to the Conference on Disarmament on the progress of its work before the conclusion of the 1998 session."
Mr. Maimeskul said this decision was "without prejudice to any further decisions on the establishment of further subsidiary bodies under agenda item 1". He said the Presidency would continue to pursue intensive consultations and would seek the views of the States members of the Conference on appropriate methods and approaches for dealing with item 1, taking into consideration all proposals and views in this respect.
Intensive consultations were continuing with respect to the appointment of a chairman for the Ad Hoc Committee just established and he would inform the Conference on the result of these consultations at the next plenary with a view to reaching a rapid decision, Mr. Maimeskul said.
Member States of the Conference on Disarmament praised the consensus achieved to establish the Ad Hoc Committee on banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Several States stressed that it should be a step toward creating an Ad Hoc Committee on nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. Others said the scope of the mandate of the Ad Hoc
Committee, and whether it should deal with past, present or future stockpiles of fissile material, were important issues that had to be agreed upon.
Representatives of Algeria (on behalf of the Group of 21), Egypt, India, South Africa, Bulgaria, Syria, United Kingdom, Canada, Morocco, Australia, Austria, Iran, United States, Israel, France, Pakistan, Cuba, Japan, Germany, Russian Federation, China and the Netherlands also addressed the meeting.
The Committee will hold its next plenary at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 13 August.
MYKOLA MAIMESKUL, President of the Conference on Disarmament and Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations Office at Geneva, welcomed the new representative of Bulgaria to the Conference on Disarmament. He was pleased to be able to announce that following intensive consultations, the Conference on Disarmament was now in the position to take decision on establishing an Ad Hoc Committee on the ban of production of fissile material for nuclear weapons under item 1. The text of the decision was before Member States in all official languages. It was so decided that the Conference would adopt it.
Mr. Maimeskul said that in connection with the decision just taken, and in his capacity as President of the Conference, he would like to state that the adoption of the decision was without prejudice to any further decisions on the establishment of further subsidiary bodies under agenda item 1 which might result from the provisions of paragraph 1 of decision CD/1501, and that the Presidency would continue to pursue intensive consultations and to seek the views of the members of the Conference on appropriate methods and approaches for dealing with agenda item 1 entitled "cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament", taking into consideration all proposals and views in this respect.
The Chairman expressed his gratitude to all delegations for the spirit of compromise they displayed through consultations which enabled the Conference on Disarmament to take this decisive step forward. Intensive consultations were continuing with respect to the appointment of a chairman for the Ad Hoc Committee just established and he would inform the Conference on the result of these consultations at the next plenary with a view to reaching a rapid decision.
MOHAMED-SALAH DEMBRI (Algeria), on behalf of the Group of 21, emphasized that nuclear disarmament was the highest priority for the Conference on Disarmament. In order to promote the work of the Conference, the Group of 21 underscored its flexibility in accepting proposals to establish the Ad Hoc Committee to negotiate a treaty on the prohibition of the production of
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fissile material for nuclear weapons. This gesture should be reciprocated by others through their agreement to establish an Ad Hoc Committee on nuclear disarmament and in the course of negotiations in the Ad Hoc Committee just established.
Mr. Dembri said the Group of 21 stressed the importance of the elimination of the possibility of nuclear war and the threats derived from the continued existence of nuclear weapons. Intensive consultations would continue with a view to reach a decision on an appropriate subsidiary body to deal with nuclear disarmament. The proposed treaty on fissile must constitute a nuclear disarmament measure and not only a nuclear non-proliferation measure. The Ad Hoc Committee on nuclear disarmament should be established to commence work on a phased programme of nuclear disarmament with a specific time framework to end nuclear proliferation.
Mr. Dembri said that on behalf of his country, he welcomed the decision just taken for the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee on fissile material. Algeria had always considered that the Conference on Disarmament should deal with agenda 1 on nuclear disarmament through simultaneous Ad Hoc Committees on nuclear disarmament and fissile material. Today, the latter had been achieved and Algeria hoped the former was not far in joining it.
MOUNIR ZAHRAN (Egypt) said his country had always been in favour of starting negotiations on FMCT as the first step in a phased programme for nuclear disarmament. This stemmed from Egypt's steadfast and continuing support for the cause of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation worldwide. To reach this objective, Egypt had contributed to numerous initiatives by the Group of 21 for the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on nuclear disarmament. However, and in the spirit of compromise and bona fide, Egypt had joined the consensus leading to the adoption of the decision to establish the Ad Hoc Committee under agenda item 1 on FMCT. However, Egypt believed that nuclear disarmament must remain at the top of the Conference on Disarmament's priorities. The members of the Conference had to fulfill the responsibilities entrusted to them by the international community for pursing complete and general nuclear disarmament.
Mr. Zahran wished to highlight some of Egypt's views concerning the negotiations on FMCT. First, Egypt understood that FMCT would neither replace nor confer any degree of de-jure or de-facto international acceptance of the possession of nuclear weapons by any State other than the five nuclear-weapon States as defined by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Egypt stressed the importance of achieving universal adherence to the NPT. All the countries of the Middle East with the exception of Israel had adhered to the NPT. Israel's refusal created an additional risk to the unbalanced situation in the Middle East which aggravated national security concerns for Egypt and raised serious regional security apprehension over the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.
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In conclusion, Mr. Zahran emphasized that FMCT could only be effective if it was applied to both future as well as already produced fissile materials, i.e. stockpiles. It was imperative that the stockpiles of weapons usable fissile material which existed in any country were declared and subjected to inspection and inventory under international supervision and control.
SAVITRI KUNNADI (India) welcomed the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee on a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT). She recalled that on May 11, her country had stated its willingness to participate in the negotiations on such a treaty. India would participate constructively in negotiations for a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning future production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
PETER GOOSEN (South Africa) welcomed the decision to establish the Ad Hoc Committee and said the commencement and early conclusion of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament had long been an objective of the South African Government. South Africa saw the negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT) as being of particular importance given the key nature of fissile material as a component of nuclear weapons. The negotiations which were about to be commenced were at the heart of the nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation issue. By achieving control over fissile material for weapons purposes, the Conference would not only be in a position to prevent the production of further nuclear weapons, but it would also be in a position to prepare the groundwork for their eventual elimination. South Africa's approach to the negotiations for a FMCT would be based on the objective that the treaty to be negotiated must be an integral measure of both nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. South Africa would also raise the issue of existing military stockpiles of fissile material to seek the most appropriate ways of dealing with the matter.
PETKO DRAGANOV (Bulgaria) informed the Conference that on 29 July, the National Assembly of Bulgaria had ratified unanimously the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and their Destruction. This decision represented the willingness of Bulgaria to contribute to the efforts of the international community to eliminate totally and forever those weapons. It was also a confirmation of Bulgaria's former position that it did not consider any of its neighbours as potential aggressors and it did not expect a military incursion on its territory. Bulgaria backed every effort of the international community in finding ways for a comprehensive and universally supported decision in the problem of anti-personnel landmines and urged all countries to do the same. A decision to establish an Ad Hoc Committee within the Conference to negotiate a ban on the transfer of anti-personnel landmines could make important progress towards the ultimate goal of the total elimination of these weapons.
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TAHER AL-HUSSAMI (Syria) said that as a member of the Group of 21, his country fully supported the statement read out on behalf of the Group. It was essential to stress that the world had seen a dramatic accumulation and stockpiling of fissile material which would make it possible to produce thousands of nuclear missiles and bombs which could promote nuclear proliferation. The Conference had to confront this reality. Otherwise, any treaty for the cessation of production of fissile material would be discriminatory. It was enough to recall the declaration of the representative of Israel at the Conference on Disarmament last Thursday when he admitted that the simple fact of accepting the creation of this Ad Hoc Committee could be harmful for Israeli security. According to the Israeli newspaper Haretz, Israel had asked the United States for guarantees that its nuclear capacity would not be affected if it accepted the establishment of this Ad Hoc Committee. It had also asked for guarantees that its nuclear facilities would never be inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Was this not affirmation that Israel had produced and continued to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons? It was high time to firmly demand that Israel respect the will of the international community and abandon the nuclear military option.
IAN SOUTAR (United Kingdom) formally registered his country's warm welcome of the decision to establish an Ad Hoc Committee on a ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. The United Kingdom had already announced it was ceasing all production of fissile material and since then, it had taken further significant steps. The United Kingdom deeply regretted that despite agreement in 1995 to establish this Ad Hoc Committee, the start of negotiations had eluded the Conference. Thus, they were long overdue and the United Kingdom looked forward to work intensely to bring them to an early and fruitful conclusion.
MARK MOHER (Canada) said his country had proposed that a phrase be added, stating "there was a general understanding that both nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament objectives will be taken into consideration during the work of this Ad Hoc Committee". There was wide consensus on this phrase, and Canada regretted that it did not find the final consensus it had hoped for. Canada wished to put its proposal and the rationale behind it on the record.
Mr. Moher said the negotiations on an FMCT would be complex with many political and technical issues to resolve. Some basic concepts needed to be kept in mind. First, there was a need to be clear on the "conceptual scope"; Canada wanted to ensure that FMCT negotiations would deal with nuclear disarmament and arms control objectives as regards those five nuclear weapon States, as well as States which for various reasons had remained outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation were at the heart of the current international nuclear security paradigm and Canada was not prepared to see that paradigm redefined
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through an FMCT negotiation. Within this conceptual framework, Canada would continue to address "all future production of fissionable material". Second, Canada was among the States which, while recognizing that direct negotiations on stocks were outside the mandate of the Committee, believed that substantive progress in dealing with production prior to the entry into force of any FMCT would be critical for optimal viability, credibility and effectiveness of that treaty. Canada urged all concerned States to commit themselves to a moratorium on production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.
A representative of Morocco expressed his country's satisfaction that the Conference on Disarmament was now taking the path for the most important negotiating session on multilateral disarmament at the end of the century. The Ad Hoc Committee would make it possible to enter these negotiations to show the international community that the Conference on Disarmament played an essential role in international peace and security. It would also put nuclear disarmament at the centre of discussions which Morocco found satisfactory.
JOHN CAMPBELL (Australia) praised the decision to establish the Ad Hoc Committee on production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. This issue dated back to half a century, but it was only now that the first concrete step to the realization of this idea was being taken. A fissile material cut-off treaty had long been an objective of Australia. It was important not only for its security benefits but for other elements. It would also enable the international community to move forward constructively beyond the events of May this year in southeast Asia.
HARALD KREID (Austria) praised the work of the President of the Conference, saying he had just won the prize that had eluded many who preceded him. Austria was very pleased with the results achieved but warned that the Conference was at the beginning of a long and arduous way. However, Austria was optimistic because a FMCT would bring the Conference one step closer to a world free of nuclear weapons.
ALI KHARRAM (Iran) said his country had decided to go along with the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee on a FMCT on the understanding that its work would be equally guided by the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation objectives. Iran had insisted all along that the banning of fissile material negotiations should address past and future production of fissile material because leaving out stockpiles would but legitimize possession and vertical proliferation of nuclear weapons. After the conclusion of FMCT, no fissile material or nuclear programme or facility should be allowed to remain out of international safeguards. Removing the threat of nuclear attack was still the most acute and urgent task of the international community and Iran sincerely hoped that the FMCT would also help the establishment of a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East as a genuine step towards a world free from nuclear weapons.
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ROBERT GREY (United States) welcomed the decision to establish an Ad Hoc Committee on a FMCT which was a high priority for his country. The United States looked forward to the forthcoming negotiations and offered its support and cooperation in getting this long-delayed enterprise off to an expeditious start. Now that the Conference had decided to move forward on FMCT, the United States hoped a decision could be reached to negotiate a transfer ban on anti-personnel landmines.
YOSEF LAMDAN (Israel) said his country shared the significance of the moment, but observed that while Israel did not object to the Ad Hoc Committee, it reserved its position on the substance of the issue. He regretted comments by some delegations, but said he would refrain from responding.
FRANCOIS RIVASSEAU (France) welcomed the important decision just taken and said the launching of negotiations on a FMCT constituted a crucial stage in the definition of a safer international society. The international non-proliferation regime would benefit from this long-awaited decision which was the culmination of years of patient efforts. France no longer produced fissile material. Member States were urged to designate a channel for the Ad Hoc Committee to enable it to meet before the end of this session and to continue its work in the next session. France hoped the Conference would draw lessons from the work of the special coordinators with respect to anti-personnel landmines and an arms race in outer space and hoped that Ad Hoc Committees for both issues could be established soon.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said a few States -- including the five nuclear weapon States and one self-declared nuclear weapon State -- wished to restrict the proposed ban on fissile material only to future production. However, the vast majority of the Member States of the Conference continued to adhere to the long-standing consensus that the FMCT must address the issue of stockpiles and their progressive and balanced reduction to promote the goal of nuclear disarmament. Therefore, Pakistan did not agree to the Treaty being described as a fissile material cut-off treaty, implying only a halt in future production. The existence of unequal stockpiles of fissile material in South Asia was always an issue of central importance since it threatened to destabilize the situation of "existential" or "non weaponized deterrence" between India and Pakistan. Pakistan could not agree to freeze inequality, especially when it directly threatened its security. CARLOS AMAT FORES (Cuba) congratulated the President on his efforts to ensure the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee on a FMCT, a subject to which Cuba attached vital importance. The traditional position of Cuba attached high priority to nuclear disarmament. The world today offered relevant opportunities to deal in effective manner with all issues related to nuclear disarmament and to ensure a safe world free from weapons of mass destruction. There was no justification today, even if it had existed before, for maintaining nuclear arsenals and continuing to modernize them. Such arsenals must be scrapped. Cuba envisaged negotiations on a FMCT within the broader
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view of nuclear disarmament. It would have been more fair if with the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on FMCT, another on nuclear disarmament had also been created. Cuba hoped that would be taken into account into the near future. AKIRA HAYASHI (Japan) said his country was one of the major advocates of the FMCT and wholeheartedly welcomed today's development which had come about, thanks to the flexibility of all the member States of the Conference. The FMCT was highly meaningful in the field of nuclear disarmament. The FMCT was invaluable in terms of nuclear non-proliferation. It would also serve as an indispensable intermediate step towards the ultimate goal of elimination of nuclear weapons and also promoting both nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. The issue of existing stockpiles of fissile material was too important to be left aside. KLAUS ACHENBACH (Germany) greatly welcomed the decision to establish the Ad Hoc Committee because a fissile material cut-off treaty had long been a goal of the international community. Germany had spared no effort to reach this decision and would spare no further effort to bring the negotiations to a successful outcome. It hoped that the procedural decisions were taken quickly so that negotiations could start immediately. This decision might well be an historic development for the Conference on Disarmament and Germany hoped it would lend new impetus to work. VASSILY SIDOROV (Russian Federation) congratulated the Chairman for his efforts and assured him of the readiness of the Russian Federation to cooperate closely. The Russian Federation was satisfied with this important and unanimous decision to create the Ad Hoc Committee on a FMCT. For many years, the Russian Federation had strongly favoured the beginning of negotiations on this issue and it hoped future negotiations would lead to an elaboration of a treaty which would contain effective and cost effective verification means to make sure no fissile material was produced. LI CHANGHE (China) congratulated the President of the Conference on Disarmament for his brilliant diplomatic skills and praised friendly and cooperative relations between Ukraine and China. China appreciated the flexibility of all the Member States of the Conference. The future FMCT should be fair and just and should be internationally comprehensive in nature. There was a long road ahead and the future negotiations would be complex and difficult. The Conference would face not only opportunities but also challenges and tests which should not be underestimated. FRANK MAJOOR (Netherlands) shared with joy and gratitude the Conference's decision to establish the Ad Hoc Committee on FMCT. The Netherlands was extraordinarily pleased with the achievement of this long-awaited step towards the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. All Member States were thanked for their flexibility. The Netherlands would contribute to the negotiations in order to bring about the best results in the shortest time possible. * *** *