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Fissile Material talks (Fissban)

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UN First Committee 2001

Resolution on Fissile Materials and Comment in General Debate

I. Resolution on Fissile Materials

Negotiating a Treaty Banning the Production of Fissile Materials for Nuclear Weapons or Other Nuclear Explosive Purposes (A/C.1/56.L.31)

Introduced by Canada, October 22

Adopted by consensus, October 30

Description and notes: in order to secure the support of China and Pakistan, the resolution (http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/1com/2001res/Ac156L31.pdf) utilises the minimal language agreed at the 2000 NPT Review Conference to show support for negotiations on a fissile materials production ban on the basis of the Shannon mandate of March 1995. However, the resolution omits the NPT target of a conclusion of negotiations within five years, simply urging the CD to "agree on a programme of work that includes the immediate commencement of negotiations on such a treaty".

Other delegations would ideally have preferred stronger language, incorporating the NPT timeline and stressing more emphatically the priority importance of negotiations. The United States' decision not to co-sponsor the resolution this year raised questions about whether this traditionally staunch supporter of negotiations will press for their commencement again, or with equal vigour, when the CD opens its 2002 session. Joining the consensus, Pakistan said it would seek to resolve the question of stocks during negotiations. Israel said the idea of negotiations on a treaty for the banning of the production of fissile materials was subsumed in Israel's concept of a nuclear-weapon-free zone for the Middle East. However, it stressed that the negotiations could not be addressed in isolation, but would need to take into account the peace process in its region.

II. Comment in General Debate

Note: unless otherwise stated, the source for the excerpts reproduced below is the website of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org.

Algeria (Abdullah Baali, October 9): "[T]he Conference on Disarmament must begin to deal with the preparation of an instrument banning the production of fissile material for weapons purposes, and preventing an outer space arms race." (UN Press Release GA/DIS/3199.)

Australia (John Dauth, October 11): "We are deeply disappointed that another Conference on Disarmament year has ended without a start to [fissile material] cut-off negotiations, despite the efforts of several states to build support for negotiations. In this regard, in May this year Australia co-sponsored, with Japan, a workshop on the role and significance of the cut-off treaty. Prior to the start of formal negotiations, Australia sees value in further informal work along these lines outside the CD. Pending negotiation of an FMCT, we call upon all relevant states to join a moratorium on production of fissile material for nuclear weapons."

Canada (Chris Westdal, October 10): "It is...surely time to put the Conference on Disarmament back to work. In that institution, we have well-proven means to negotiate binding accords. Canadian and other CD Presidents have done their utmost to spur governments to joint action dealing with fissile material negotiations, nuclear disarmament and the prevention of an arms race in outer space. We have been very close to agreement on a program of valuable work. The time has come to agree and get moving."

China (Hu Xiaodi, October 9): "[W]e should proceed to negotiating a fissile material cut-off treaty and an agreement on the security assurance for non-nuclear-weapon states, banning the first use and the use of nuclear weapons, as well as withdrawing the nuclear weapons stationed on the territory of other countries and abandoning the policies of nuclear umbrella and nuclear sharing."

South Korea (Sun Joun-yung, October 10): "With respect to the FMCT, it is certainly frustrating that the CD has yet to commence negotiation of the treaty, which is the next logical step on the nuclear arms control and disarmament agenda. ... Pending negotiation of the FMCT, we call upon all relevant states to join a moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons."

Lithuania (Gediminas Serksnys, October 16): "What a pity for the CD to haggle over the programme of work while turning a deaf ear to an issue of fissile materials which continue to pile up and can spread unchecked."

Mongolia (J. Enkhsaikhan, October 9): "[M]y delegation also urges the Conference on Disarmament to engage in earnest negotiations on an early conclusion of a universal and verifiable Fissile Materials Cut-Off Treaty. Pending the negotiation of that treaty, we would welcome a moratorium on the production of weapons-grade fissile materials and greater transparency through disclosure of...present stocks. In this context, my delegation reiterates its call upon the United Nations to establish...a register of all stocks of weapons-grade fissile material as an important addition to the existing UN Register of Conventional Arms."

New Agenda Ministerial Communiqué (the Foreign Ministers of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden), October 8: "[T]here have been few advances in the implementation of the thirteen steps agreed to at the 2000 NPT review Conference. A particular disappointment was the continuing failure of the Conference on Disarmament to deal with nuclear disarmament and to resume negotiations on [a] fissile material [treaty]."

United States (Avis Bohlen, October 10): "NPT parties and UN member states...have repeatedly called for the immediate commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty... We are extremely disappointed that the continuing deadlock in the CD is preventing the start of these negotiations."

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