Thursday, September 3, 2009

CD Proceedings on FMCT Comes to A Standstill

Efforts by Conference on Disarmament (CD) to start negotiations on Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty reached a standstill as Pakistan raised objections saying that its security interests have not been taken into account.

Now that the talks are stalled, CD can restart negotiations only in January 2010.

After a 12-year gap, the CD was beginning to focus on issues such as nuclear disarmament with a renewed push from US President Barack Obama himself. The CD was also to take up two other issues -- prevention of an arms race in outer space and “negative security assurances,” in which countries promise not to use nuclear weapons on non-nuclear-weapon states. However, the next step of agreeing to implementation of the work plan in order that different working groups could start examining the various issues is proving to be difficult.

Pakistan, for instance, has said that implementation of these proposals will hurt its national security. Islamabad fears that all the focus will be on FMCT and in the process, other three issues will be neglected. Pakistani Ambassador Zamir Akram told Reuters, “We wanted to see a programme of work being implemented in a way that would set the stage for a balanced outcome on all the four issues.” Pakistan tried to demonstrate that it had the support of several Non Alignment Movement (NAM) countries as also the Russian and Chinese support for the ban of weapons in outer space. The ambassador further noted that the manner in which the US, Russia, France and Britain were navigating the entire FMCT negotiations also raised concerns in Pakistan. Pakistan’s fear is that these four countries’ approach to FMCT was through a non-proliferation lens that would essentially look at banning future production of fissile material.

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