Disarmament DiplomacyIssue No. 13, February - March 1997
Ledogar Criticises CD Agenda, India and PakistanIn an interview with the United States Information Agency and Reuters on 14 February, Stephen Ledogar, the US Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament (CD), voiced strong criticism of the current nuclear and arms control policies of both India and Pakistan; in particular, their opposition to negotiating a fissile materials 'cut-off' treaty, which he claimed ran counter to the "high preachments" of both States concerning the CD's duty to negotiate nuclear disarmament:
"...they are refusing to agree to a negotiation that would put a cap on the nuclear arms race in South Asia, the only place in the world where there is a nuclear arms race right now... They are producing, both of them, fissile material, unconstrained, unsafeguarded, unaccounted for, and they refused to engage in anything that would approach establishment of an accountability regime... The idea is, we are supposed to throw away nuclear weapons while they build theirs. That does not seem sincere... Why don't India and Pakistan sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, then sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; then I think they will have the moral stature to be lecturing the world on nuclear disarmament."
Speaking of the more general demand for the CD to negotiate nuclear disarmament, Ledogar frankly described it as a "romantic idea" that "just isn't going to happen":
"It is clearly premature to consider any approach towards nuclear disarmament in the CD... [Such an] approach may one day be wise...[but] not in the foreseeable future..."
Referring to the items included on the agenda of the CD's current session (see Geneva Update), Ledogar commented scathingly: "The agenda is rather a disgrace... It is a total anachronism loaded up with items that have survived the Cold War... [T]he CD, these last four weeks, has fallen to new depths." Explaining that his frustration derived particularly from the response to the US proposal for CD negotiations on banning landmines, Ledogar elaborated:
"Countries don't want to stand up and say, 'we don't want to do landmine negotiations'... So instead they say, 'well, you haven't agreed to an agenda,' or 'this item doesn't fit within the agenda': a lot of false procedural tricks to cover up the fact that what they really want to do is to avoid coming to grips with the subject. ... This is the single international arms control negotiating forum. If the non-nuclear States, the non-aligned States, are not interested in preserving it and letting it move forward on things that it is ready to move on, then there is not much that we can do. We are certainly not going to change our policy simply to keep the CD occupied."
Asked whether the US regarded the cut-off or landmines talks as the major priority, Ledogar replied:
"The United States doesn't have formal priority between [them]... We would rather do both. But I would say either of them would be better than none."
Reports: US arms envoy attacks India and Pakistan, Reuter News Reports, 14 February; Ledogar - premature to consider CD forum for nuclear disarmament, United States Information Agency, 14 February.
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