The discussions during the last couple of days on the issue of fissile materials have been quite useful and substantive. They provided a welcome opportunity to share our respective positions and gain fresh insight into the state of play on this issue.
Such activity in the CD is of great value for developing a better common understanding. Credit goes to you, Mr. Co-Facilitator, for organizing the meeting in a manner that facilitated such a frank and substantive exchange of views.
In your letter of 12th June, you asked us to focus in the meeting today on the broader issues for taking stock of the progress on this matter, and to consider steps for the way ahead. I shall try to address these points in my intervention.
It is no secret that there currently is no consensus on a unified approach for dealing with the issue of fissile material, or on any other issue on the CD’s agenda. Some Member States prefer the immediate start of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) on the basis of the Shannon Mandate. These States either out-rightly oppose the inclusion of stocks in the Treaty’s scope, or prefer to remain ambivalent or vague about this aspect.
Other States such as my country support a broader Fissile Material Treaty (FMT) that not only prohibits future production, but also deals with existing stocks to address their asymmetries. The so-called constructive ambiguity of the Shannon Mandate is no longer acceptable to us. We want complete clarity on this vital issue. We cannot enter into such an important treaty negotiation blind-folded.
For the large number of CD members, including the delegations that did not participate in these discussions and many that did, neither FMCT nor FMT is a priority. They are more interested in progress on other core issues, the longer-standing items on the CD’s agenda including nuclear disarmament, prevention of an arms race in outer space, and negative security assurances.
This situation, Mr. Co-Facilitator, has led to a deadlock of the CD. This deadlock is not confined to one issue. It is the result of a double disagreement: one, over which core issue ought to be negotiated first; and two, over the scope of individual negotiations even if there was consensus to proceed with negotiations.
These are fundamental differences that cannot be brushed aside. The issues at stake are very serious as they concern the national security of States. It is just not possible for any State to enter into negotiations on a treaty whose outcome is bound to diminish its security.
This fact was amply proved when a large number of countries including my own decided against participation in the negotiations of a convention prohibiting nuclear weapons, the Ban Treaty. Many of these States participated in the preparatory process in the hope of influencing the negotiating mandate of the Ban Treaty and its likely outcome.
However, once they perceived that the outcome of the Ban Treaty would be detrimental to their security interests, they simply decided to boycott the subsequent negotiating process. Many of course did not even bother with the preparatory process and had already reached that conclusion.
This is quite analogous to the situation that Pakistan finds itself in, on the issue of fissile material. Pakistan is often advised, privately and publically, that it should lift its objection to the commencement of negotiations under the Shannon Mandate to conclude a treaty prohibiting the production of fissile material.
Just like those States that engaged with the OEWG that eventually led to the Ban Treaty negotiations, Pakistan too has engaged most actively and constructively over the years with the major proponents of FMCT including the other nuclear weapons possessing states.
Yet no occasion have we found any opening that could convince Pakistan of a treaty outcome that would be different from a simple fissile material production cut-off detrimental to our security.
This leaves us with no option but to demand and expect full clarity on the scope and objective of the treaty, prior to the start of negotiations, in a manner that addresses the cause of the insecurity and discrimination felt by us.
Just last week, during the discussions on PAROS, my delegation heard the assertion that a treaty on PAROS would negatively affect the security of a particular State, because of other States’ offensive capabilities that would be left outside the treaty’s scope. We did not agree with this but we respected it as the opinion of a sovereign state, which is free to determine its own security calculus. Pakistan is entitled to the same.
The paralysis on the issue of fissile material is not limited to a binary debate over its scope. As we have witnessed during the last few days, the differences are deeper and wider, covering all elements of the treaty including definitions, verification, and legal and institutional aspects. It calls for a serious reconsideration of the very concept and objectives of the treaty.
Also, developments outside this chamber have a direct impact on how each one of us perceive and approach the issue. We need to eschew the exercise of double standards in the application of non-proliferation norms such as those that manifest in the conclusion of discriminatory bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreements, the grant of inequitable waivers, and the continued pursuit of the creation of additional country-specific exceptions in the nonproliferation and multilateral export control regimes. The issue needs to be viewed in the broader security and strategic context.
As long as consensus on the commencement of negotiations eludes us, continuing discussions in this format is the only viable way forward. It helps in exploring convergences and better understanding all perspectives, paving the way for immediate start of substantive work when the time is ripe.
My delegation remains committed to the CD and to the upholding of its essential authority and mandate. We do not favour any dilution of the CD’s role through non-universal and divisive processes launched outside the CD on a non-consensus basis.
Similar to Pakistan’s stance towards the ill-advised GGE established in 2014, Pakistan has again chosen not to participate in the so-called High level FMCT Expert Preparatory Group.
The limited and incomplete composition of this Expert Group as well as its divisive genesis, restrictive mandate and partial basis of work does not qualify it for undertaking the task that is being expected from it. We will not be in a position to accept any conclusion or recommendation produced by this Expert Group including any attempt to force its report as the basis for further consideration of the fissile material issue by the CD.
I thank you, Mr. Co-Facilitator.