Hears Statement on the Occasion of the International Women’s Day
12 March 2013
The Conference on Disarmament today continued a series of thematic discussions on the core issues on its agenda, taking up the issue of the prohibition of the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other explosive devices. The Conference also heard a statement from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom on the occasion of the International Women’s Day.
During the discussion, delegations expressed support for the negotiation of a multilateral, non-discriminatory, and effectively verifiable legally-binding instrument banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other explosive devices. Such a treaty was broadly seen as the next logical step in the pursuit of nuclear disarmament and as an important complement to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty regime. Delegations highlighted important disagreements concerning the scope of such a treaty, in particular the questions of stockpiles; and underlined other issues that required consideration, such as those related to definitions and verification. Some delegations contended that a simple prohibition of future production of fissile material would create an asymmetric advantage and could lead to a diversion of existing stocks or special dispensations for nuclear production.
Others pointed out that a treaty on fissile materials should be seen as part of a comprehensive framework for the total elimination of nuclear weapons and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Several speakers stressed the importance of taking concrete practical steps for the promotion of nuclear disarmament and emphasised the solid technical and conceptual groundwork which had been laid out during a series of discussion on a possible Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, including on the basis of mechanisms and expertise developed in the context of the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime and the International Atomic Energy Agency. While emphasising the important role of the Conference on Disarmament, delegations welcomed the establishment of a group of governmental experts on this issue by the General Assembly and hoped that its recommendations would contribute to disarmament efforts.
Many delegations welcomed the statement made by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, on the occasion of the 8 March International Women’s Day, and reiterated their support for an increased participation and engagement of civil society in the context of the Conference on Disarmament. Speakers also underlined the importance of women in disarmament
Ambassador Sujata Mehta, outgoing President of the Conference on Disarmament, in concluding remarks, said that given the distance between different points of view on what an acceptable programme of work should contain and the benchmark in the form of CD/1864, the most practical approach would be for the Presidency to continue to keep in touch with delegations and to foster a consultative climate with the aim of moving forward. Despite legitimate frustration, there was an overwhelming sense that the Conference on Disarmament fulfilled a unique function. Ambassador Mehta indicated that, continuing with the thematic discussions on the four core issues on the agenda, the next plenary meeting of the Conference would be dedicated to the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS).
Speaking in today’s plenary discussion were Ireland on behalf of the European Union, Brazil on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, Spain, Canada, United States, Hungary, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Australia, Japan, Netherlands, France, Kazakhstan, United Kingdom, Cuba, Ireland, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Myanmar, Finland, Iran, Pakistan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Turkey, Algeria and India.
The next public plenary of the Conference will be held on Tuesday, 19 March at 10 a.m.
BEATRICE FIHN, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, speaking on the occasion of the International Women’s Day, recalled that in a few days delegations would gather in New York to engage in the second diplomatic conference on the world’s first multilateral international arms trade treaty and urged all States to support a strong treaty that would stop transfers of conventional arms where there was a substantial risk that weapons were likely to be used to facilitate acts of gender-based violence, including rape and other forms of sexual violence. The humanitarian perspective inherent in the demand for an effective international arms trade treaty was also at the heart of the discussions that took place last week in Oslo, Norway, regarding the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. The humanitarian approach to nuclear weapons challenged the foundation of their possession, undermined incentives for proliferation and encouraged disarmament.
Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the immediate commencement and conclusion of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices remained a priority for the European Union. Launching and concluding these negotiations constituted an essential step for a safer world and a precondition for a world free of nuclear weapons. National security concerns, while legitimate, should be addressed during a negotiation process rather than as a prerequisite. Confidence building measures were also important and this was the rationale for the European Union’s call for the declaration of a moratorium on the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons and other explosive devices. The Conference on Disarmament had the crucial role to negotiate multilateral treaties and it was the responsibility of all its Members to make the Conference deliver in accordance to its mandate. The European Union continued to urge the last remaining State to join consensus in adopting a programme of work and, consistent with its engagement with civil society, looked forward to the enhanced interaction between the Conference and civil society.
Brazil, speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, said that despite significant progress the goal of nuclear disarmament remained elusive. The total elimination of nuclear weapons constituted the only guarantee against their use; but until this goal was achieved, non-nuclear weapon states had the right to receive legally-binding negative security assurances from nuclear weapon states. This year presented numerous opportunities to achieve progress towards the achievement of a world free of nuclear weapons and to accelerate nuclear disarmament, including the second preparatory meeting of the 2015 Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, the establishment of a group of governmental experts and the high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament called for by the General Assembly. The establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East would produce significant benefits and the New Agenda Coalition regretted that the Conference scheduled to this end had not been convened in 2012. The New Agenda Coalition strongly condemned the nuclear test carried out by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea; and urged all States to pursue policies that were fully compatible with the objective of achieving and maintaining a world without nuclear weapons.
Spain said that, despite the efforts of the past CD Presidencies, the Conference remained unable to achieve consensus on a programme of work. Spain considered that the Shannon mandate and the model contained in CD/1864 continued to be valid frameworks for negotiations. A Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) must include definitions of at least three aspects: fissile materials, production of fissile material and production facilities. A definition of fissile material must be sufficiently restrictive to allow for an effective verification system. In order to build a regime for an effective and internationally verifiable treaty was the key challenge of future negotiations. Spain was in favour of having the International Atomic Energy Agency assume this task, given its experience in the area of verification. Concerning the group of governmental experts established by UN General Assembly resolution 67/53 that would gather in Geneva, in 2014-2015 to make proposals on a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons and other nuclear devices, this was a new opportunity to share and contrast ideas on issues of interest for the Conference on Disarmament.
Canada felt strongly that a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons would contribute both to non-proliferation and disarmament efforts. Canada had outlined its views in a number of occasions and hoped to build on these proposals in its response to the Secretary-General’s call for Members States’ views on this treaty. It was unfortunate that the Conference on Disarmament could not show the necessary flexibility to start with negotiations. As Spain had noted, the use of the consensus rule had drifted away from its original intention. Canada had facilitated the negotiations on General Assembly’s resolution 67/53, which had been adopted with broad support and represented a commitment to work. The resolution offered a modest but balanced approach to consider options for the negotiation of an instrument. The group of governmental experts would make recommendations on aspects which could contribute to the eventual negotiation of a treaty without undermining the Conference on Disarmament, given that the group of governmental experts was not intended to negotiate such a treaty. Canada hoped that the discussions of the group of governmental experts could benefit from a comprehensive report from the Secretary-General containing the views of Member States.
United States said that the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty had been an issue at the core of the Conference’s agenda for years. In a number of occasions, the international community had underlined the centrality of such a treaty for nuclear disarmament, for no other instrument counted with better technical and conceptual groundwork. Yet efforts by several Member States to craft sensible compromise language had failed. The resolution establishing a group of governmental experts, had been balanced, consensus-based, and could lead to future Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty negotiations in the Conference. It was not a substitute, but an impetus for the Conference to regain its credibility as a multilateral negotiating forum. The United States looked forward to participating and would submit its views in response to the Secretary-General’s call. A Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty would effectively cap fissile materials available for use in nuclear weapons and would make an important contribution to both non-proliferation and disarmament. Consistent with the Shannon Mandate, the scope of the treaty would be an issue for negotiations and existing stockpiles should be dealt with separately, through other agreements and voluntary measures such as those already applied by the United States in the reduction of its fissile materials for weapon purposes.
Hungary said that the elimination of nuclear weapons was not a single act but required a step by step process, as identified by the founding members of the Conference on Disarmament. A treaty banning fissile materials for nuclear weapons and other explosive devices constituted the next logical step toward the elimination of nuclear weapons and its priority had been reaffirmed by decisions of different multilateral fora. The potential of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty to safeguard and increase international security was convincing enough not to delay negotiations anymore. By banning and verifying the production of fissile materials, a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty would contribute to the implementation of Article VI of the Nuclear-non-Proliferation Treaty; through limiting the amount of direct use materials that may be accessible to non-state actors for building nuclear explosive devices, it may also significantly limit the opportunities for terrorist act.
Switzerland said that the adoption of a treaty banning fissile material for the production of nuclear weapons would contribute to the non-proliferation regime. Similarly, State parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty had fixed a clear objective in the final document of the 2000 and 2010 Review Conferences. Such a treaty must be multilateral, non-discriminatory, and effectively verifiable, and it should cover existing stocks as well as the future productions. An approach restricted to non-proliferation would not contribute to addressing several challenges present today. The approach to be adopted concerning stockpiles would allow the international community to judge the desire of nuclear weapon states to make real headway in the field of disarmament. A treaty covering both existing stocks as well as future productions would constitute a concrete step toward nuclear disarmament, and would give life to previous disarmament commitments and the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. Switzerland had supported General Assembly resolution 67/53 and reiterated the importance of geographic representation in the convening of the group of governmental experts.
Italy said that a treaty on fissile material was a priority for Italy. It was an important instrument for disarmament and non-proliferation that was long overdue. Serious matters would have to be tackled during the negotiations, including the issue of stockpiles which should be dealt with during negotiations rather than as a precondition. Defining fissile materials was a complex issue but absolutely essential and the goal should be to arrive at a definition which was broad enough to make a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons credible and effective, but not extensive enough to require an unacceptably complex and expensive verification or to unnecessarily limit the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Provisions on verification were essential and there was scope for negotiation and for the inputs of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Production facilities of weapon-grade materials should also be addressed. Stockpiles were the real stumbling block on any future negotiations on a treaty. In depth discussion on these issues could serve as the basis of some provisional understanding without formally beginning negotiations.
Germany thanked the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom for its statement and highlighted the importance of hearing the voice of civil society. After the arrangements set up by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty a treaty on fissile materials would be the next logical step. The question of the scope of such negotiations and whether stockpiles along with the future production should be considered remained contentious. While it was deplorable that the General Assembly had to resort to the creation of a group of governmental experts but, in this context, this was an option that must be pursued in view of the continued impasse in the CD. On 12 February Germany had condemned the nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea “in the strongest possible terms.” As a matter of principle Germany upheld, with conviction, the right of any delegation to speak freely, even despite fundamental differences in views. However, this should never be understood as a licence to use threatening language and, while Germany had no desire to contribute to the escalation of rhetoric, the international community should take a strong stance.
Australia said that the negotiation, conclusion and entry into force of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons, in accordance with CD/1299 and the mandate contained therein, would constitute an important and welcomed series of achievements. The conclusion of such a treaty would not be an end in itself, but a significant step in irreversible nuclear disarmament and a milestone toward the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. Such an instrument had the potential to deliver substantial security benefits, furthering the twin goals of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. By capping the amount of fissile material available for weapon use, such a treaty would further tighten controls on fissile material; and, by imposing a quantitative limit on the amount of fissile material available for weapon use, it would complement the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. The issue of past production of fissile material should be an impediment to negotiations. Australia strongly supported the establishment of a group of governmental experts in 2014, as an opportunity to take an important issue forward and to inform, guide, and support the Conference on Disarmament.
Japan reiterated that a cumulative process of practical steps and concrete disarmament measures was the appropriate approach to advance toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons. A treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices constituted the next logical step. A ban on the future production should constitute the core obligation of such a treaty and no legal loopholes should be inadvertently created through narrow definitions, in this regard, Article XX of the International Atomic Energy Agency statute could provide a basis. Concerning verification, Japan believed that four categories needed to be taken into consideration, among them, confirming that the amount of fissile material stock for nuclear weapons did not increase since from the date of the treaty’s entry into force. With regards to stockpiles, a treaty should prohibit the transfer of stocks for nuclear weapons to a third country, the diversion to nuclear-weapon purposes of stocks for conventional military use, and the reversion back to nuclear-weapon purposes. Japan hoped that the group of governmental experts would provide new momentum and help the Conference on Disarmament begin its substantive work.
Netherlands emphasised that discussions on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for the production of nuclear weapons, or other core issues, could not substitute real negotiations. Netherlands attached great importance to the conclusion of a verifiable Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, as an indispensable step towards a world free of nuclear weapons. Netherlands was satisfied with General Assembly resolution 67/53 on the establishment of a group of governmental experts and hoped that it would help bring real negotiations closer. A lot of work had been done in the past and the question was about the elements on which consensus could be more easily reached. The outcome of the group of experts could be a report to the Secretary-General and the Conference on Disarmament containing an overview of issues where agreement may be within reach. Netherlands hoped that the group of experts could help the Conference to get negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty started. Netherlands echoed Germany’s concerns with regards to the use of threatening language in the Conference.
France reiterated the importance it attached to a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty and said that such a treaty would have an impact on both disarmament and non-proliferation. A step by step approach was the only way to achieve progress in the field of nuclear disarmament. Fissile material constituted the raw material of nuclear weapons and, on this basis, approaches that tackled the problem at the source should be put into place, rather than more complex weapon-based approach. The question of the prohibition of fissile material had been on the table for a long time and a great deal of in-depth reflexions had been developed. Since the adoption of CD/1864 and a number of side-meetings, today the Conference on Disarmament should continue to move forward. No other topic among the main issues had generated so much expectation. While a number of complex issues would have to be addressed, such as, the scope of application and definitions, the activities labelled as “production” of fissile material, questions regarding verification, these would have to be addressed during negotiations. Neither discussions on a programme of work, seminars, nor expert groups could substitute real negotiations. The establishment of a group of governmental experts constituted a useful measure, but France recalled that resolution 67/53 also urged the Conference to start negotiations.
Kazakhstan said that the negotiation of a treaty on fissile materials that was comprehensive in scope, universal and legally binging, constituted the next logical step for achieving the ultimate goal of eliminating weapons of mass destruction. The Conference on Disarmament should be at the vanguard of this long overdue process and the Shannon Mandate constituted a good launching-pad for future talks on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. Kazakhstan also thanked Germany and Netherlands for their dedication to create a positive impact for the advancement of this topic. Kazakhstan believed that the deliberations of the group of governmental experts set up by the General Assembly would be aimed at galvanizing new suggestions for breaking the present stalemate. Since Kazakhstan had renounced to its nuclear status in 1991 it had undertaken not to produce or acquire nuclear weapons and had accepted International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. Kazakhstan was now one of the world’s largest suppliers of uranium products and Astana’s talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency and its Member States on the establishment of an international bank for low-enriched uranium could serve as a practical input to guarantee all States had access to nuclear fuel.
United Kingdom remained absolutely committed to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons and had a strong record of fulfilling disarmament commitments. A Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty was very important given that obtaining fissile material remained the greatest challenge to any new nuclear weapon programme. Among other commitments, such a treaty would turn existing moratoria on the production of fissile material into legally binding commitments and place such a commitment on States which had not announced a moratorium; it would ensure verification arrangements were applied to all enrichment and reprocessing facilities in nuclear weapons possessing states; and it would put in place an essential building block towards an eventual ban on nuclear weapons. It was not enough for states to take unilateral actions. Sustainable disarmament could only be achieved through a multilateral process and the negotiation of such a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty in the Conference on Disarmament must remain the priority for the international community. The United Kingdom looked forward to engaging in the context of the group of governmental experts set up by the General Assembly.
Cuba said that the Conference on Disarmament found itself at a crucial state. The question of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons was closely related to the paralysis, though it did not constitute its main cause. Cuba supported the beginning of negotiations on a multilateral, non-discriminatory, and effectively verifiable treaty within the Conference on Disarmament. Cuba was prepared to negotiate simultaneously at the Conference a number of treaties, including on fissile material, on the prevention of an arms race on the outer-space, on negative-security assurances, and a treaty banning nuclear weapons. The Conference had the capacity to undertake such negotiations, but the necessary political will was missing. Cuba encouraged Member States to do what they could to achieve the adoption of a balanced programme of work which took into account the real priorities in the field of disarmament.
Ireland reiterated that the Conference faced many disarmament and non-proliferation challenges today. Greater participation of civil society in the Conference and other disarmament fora could significantly contribute to its work. A world free of nuclear weapons would require a framework of mutually reinforcing instruments and Ireland was convinced that a fissile material treaty could serve both disarmament as well as non-proliferation purposes. In 2000, States parties had agreed that the Conference should immediately begin the negotiation of a treaty banning the production of fissile material, in accordance with the report of the Special Coordinator of 1995 and the mandate contained in CD/1299. Last year the General Assembly had voted for the creation of a group of governmental experts in 2014 to make recommendations on possible aspects which could contribute to such a treaty. Ireland believed that, for it to be meaningful, a fissile materials treaty must address the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s disarmament agenda as well as its non-proliferation agenda and address existing stockpiles.
Republic of Korea said that efforts towards a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty had taken place at the margins at the Conference on Disarmament and that such a treaty could make a significant contribution toward a nuclear weapon free world. If the Conference was the most appropriate negotiating forum for a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, more flexibility and political will should be displayed to commence negotiations and address a number of outstanding issues during the negotiations. Republic of Korea urged all nuclear-weapon states to declare a moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons if they had not yet done so. Republic of Korea welcomed the establishment of a group of governmental experts by the General Assembly last year, and stressed that the Conference on Disarmament did not have to wait until the end of the mandate of the group of governmental experts to begin negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty.
South Africa welcomed the statement by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and hoped for a broader engagement between the Conference and civil society. A Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty would fulfil nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament objectives if such an instrument were to become part of a broader framework. Any instrument that reinforced existing inequalities would not serve the collective interest; and a treaty that allowed for the development of new nuclear weapons would undermine the rationale for such a treaty in the first place. South Africa did not believe that this was the only issue ripe for negotiation or that it constituted a prerequisite to pursue other efforts. A fissile material treaty could serve as an important building block of a comprehensive framework, but the issue could be dealt with as part of a more comprehensive effort aimed at banning nuclear weapons. South Africa’s experience had shown that technical difficulties could be overcome with sufficient political will. The outright rejection of dealing with stocks before even commencing negotiations contradicted the Shannon report and raised questions about the real commitment to disarmament of those upholding this view.
Myanmar reiterated that nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation were interrelated and were mutually reinforcing. The conclusion of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear devices was a logical step toward the ultimate goal of a nuclear weapon free world. A future treaty should cover both the existing stockpiles and future production, it was also essential that any negotiating process must be transparent and inclusive. The continued existence of nuclear weapons and their deployment stood as one of the most serious humanitarian challenges. Major nuclear power states were still far from fulfilling their commitments and responsibilities stipulated in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the consensus agreement reached at the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. The future of the Conference on Disarmament clearly depended on genuine political will and flexibility.
Finland was ready to start negotiations on all four core issues in the Conference on Disarmament but as this road remained closed the international community should not be paralysed. Finland believed that the exchange of views on a treaty banning fissile material for nuclear weapons and the establishment of a group of governmental experts would contribute to the Conference on Disarmament and disarmament machinery in general. An effective Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty would be a logical next step, complementing the Non-Proliferation Treaty and Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty framework. Finland also welcomed the statement made by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, stressing that the role of women in disarmament was a crucial as ever, and welcomed the interaction between the Conference on Disarmament and civil society.
Iran welcomed the statement by Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and said that a large number of members of the international community had addressed the threat posed by nuclear weapons to international peace and security. Last week in Oslo, representatives of numerous States and civil society had discussed the humanitarian implications of nuclear weapons. Disarmament and the elimination of nuclear weapons constituted the best form of prevention. Iran was persuaded that the existence of nuclear weapons remained the greatest threat and piecemeal undertakings were not an option. Iran was in favour of the negotiation of a nuclear weapon convention, banning the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons. The banning of the production of all weapon-grade fissile material for nuclear weapons and the elimination of stockpiles, in an irreversible and verifiable manner within an agreed timeframe, set up a framework toward disarmament and the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Other approaches, on the other hand, would only provide a meaningless reduction of surpluses. Iran reiterated that its nuclear programme was solely for peaceful and development purposes.
Pakistan said that the multilateral processes in the field of disarmament would only strengthen international security when they were based on the principles of non-discrimination and the consideration of the security interests of all states. The negotiation of a treaty on fissile material could not be separated from the other goals, including nuclear disarmament and the reduction of stockpiles. A simple ban on future production of fissile material would only produce an asymmetric advantage and could lead to a diversion of existing stocks and special dispensations for nuclear weapon production. The kind of constructive ambiguity in the Shannon Mandate may have been sufficient in the 1990s but not anymore, and the issue now had to be addressed in a direct manner. Some States had suggested bringing these issues out of the Conference on Disarmament, for Pakistan the General Assembly’s First Special Session on Disarmament had set up the appropriate framework for multilateral disarmament negotiations. The issue of nuclear disarmament was ripe for negotiations within the Conference.
Democratic People's Republic of Korea said that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty aimed at preventing the qualitative improvement of existing nuclear weapons and to eliminate any possibilities of nuclear development. The current situation of the nuclear disarmament was too distant from the treaty’s ideal, since disarmament was the precondition for enforcement. The elimination of existing nuclear weapons and unilateral implementation of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty would give place to a significant imbalance in the security of States. Most of the nuclear tests recorded had been carried out by the Permanent Members of the Security Council, for whom no more nuclear tests were necessary. Countries like the Democratic People's Republic of Korea could not take the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty seriously, since they required a nuclear self-deterrent to cope with the threat posed by the only nuclear superpower. Today Germany had seriously provoked the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and its remarks did not contribute to the resolution of the situation in the Korean Peninsula. Democratic People's Republic of Korea rejected Security Council resolutions against it, as they constituted a wanton violation of its sovereignty. Armies were facing each other in the Peninsula, in this context, what threatening language was Germany talking about?
Turkey stressed that its security policy excluded the production and use of all kinds of weapons of mass destruction, advocated for global overall disarmament, and supported all efforts aimed at sustaining international security. Turkey hoped that the second session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference would also be a good opportunity to continue reviewing the implementation of the 2010 Action Plan. Turkey hoped to see the Conference revitalised and, as other Members, believed that it possessed the mandate, membership and rules of procedure to discharge its functions. Turkey supported the establishment of a group of governmental experts by the General Assembly and hoped that this resolution would contribute to global disarmament and would help the Conference to resume its work. A Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty should include the issue of stockpiles and effective verification, and national concerns regarding a possible treaty should be brought up during negotiations.
Algeria congratulated the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom on its statement and reiterated its interest in the role women can play in disarmament. Algeria reiterated its support for the launch of negotiations within the Conference on Disarmament on the basis of a balanced programme of work and the elements contained in CD/1299. The conclusion of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons would constitute an important measure for both horizontal and vertical non-proliferation. Such a treaty should also address stockpiles and not only the future production of fissile material. Recalling the position document of the Group of 21, Algeria stated that this treaty should constitute a nuclear disarmament measure and be included in a broader process to eliminate nuclear weapons and in an international effort to ensure the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Effective verification was crucial and should be based on a system of guarantees. The International Atomic Energy Agency, given its knowledge and experience, should play a key role. The system of guarantees of such a treaty could be based on the relevant provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the relevant articles of the statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
India reiterated its support for the early commencement of substantive work in the Conference on Disarmament on the basis of a programme of work. India was a nuclear weapon state and a responsible member of the international community, and would approach negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty as such. India had been one of the original co-sponsors of General Assembly resolution 48/75L, adopted by consensus in 1993, and which envisaged such a treaty as a significant contribution to non-proliferation in all its aspects. The mandate for the proposed treaty was explicitly reflected in the General Assembly resolution 48/75L and reconfirmed by the Shannon Report in document CD/1299, and had also been reaffirmed in the consensus decisions of the Conference in 1998 and 2009. India was not in favour of reopening this mandate on which there had been longstanding international consensus. The Conference should be allowed to fulfil its mandate as a negotiating forum by commencing negotiations on the basis of an early decision on its programme of work. It was unfortunate that the Conference had been prevented from commencing substantive work on any of the issues that commanded strong support on different pretexts.
AMBASSADOR SUJATA MEHTA, President of the Conference on Disarmament, in concluding remarks at the end, said that during her Presidency she had attempted to consult delegations to reflect and take account of all points of view. A large number of delegations expressed appreciation for Ambassador Dekany’s efforts in preparing and tabling a draft programme of work contained in document CD/1948, and some delegations felt there may be merit in consulting further to identify obstacles in CD/1948. Many delegations cautioned that repeated failures to adopt a programme of work added to the sense of frustration with the Conference and therefore a fresh attempt should only be made if a reasonable chance of success was available. The flexibility shown by Member States had allowed the Conference to hold plenary meetings on two of the core issues in its Agenda, namely on nuclear disarmament and on the prohibition of the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Ambassador Mehta hoped that the Conference would continue to have more such opportunities under the subsequent Presidencies. Concerning the proposal to attempt an in-between approach, often referred to as a simplified or light programme of work, these views tended to agree with those delegations sceptical about the value of thematic debates during plenary meetings and believed that to avoid repetition and to pursue interactive exchanges, it was important to locate thematic discussions not in plenaries but in subsidiary bodies. A concern expressed regarding such an approach was that this would be difficult to reconcile with the Conference’s mandate as a negotiating forum. Given the distance between different points of view on what an acceptable programme of work should contain and the benchmark in the form of CD/1864, the most practical approach at present would be for the Presidency to continue to keep in touch with delegations and to foster a consultative climate with the aim of moving forward. Despite legitimate frustration, there was an overwhelming sense that the Conference on Disarmament fulfilled a unique function, in that it brought together on a permanent and equal basis all the military significant States to discuss specific items related to the negotiation of disarmament instruments. Ambassador Mehta indicated that, continuing with the thematic discussions on the four core issues on the agenda, the next plenary meeting of the Conference would be dedicated to the prevention of an arms race in outer-space.
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