The discussions held so far in this Subsidiary Body revealed once again the wide divergence of views on almost all issues related to a ban of the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Above all, the aspects that are the most fundamental for any treaty, that is, its objectives and scope, remain highly contentious. We would not be doing justice to ourselves if we were to gloss over these glaring differences in an attempt to demonstrate contrived progress. We must clearly identify the critical areas that need to be addressed in order to develop consensus on a unified approach. The challenges and key concerns that are preventing progress on this issue cannot and should not be swept under the carpet.
The non-paper circulated by you on 18 June 2018 on the supposed areas of commonalities does not accurately reflect the discussion held so far. It mostly highlights those elements that cater to one particular school of thought and therefore cannot be accepted as the basis for our report. We are ready to work with you, Mr. Coordinator, and with all other delegations in a constructive spirit to prepare a factual and balanced report that accurately reflects all the viewpoints, and that can be agreed by consensus.
Coming over to the topic under discussion today. The issue of scope is the most contested aspect of the treaty. At its heart lies a major divergence, i.e., whether the treaty should only ban the future production of fissile material, or it should also cover fissile material produced prior to entry-into-force. Although it is not the only issue preventing the start of treaty negotiations, it is certainly the top most issue. It has also led to the use of two different names for the proposed treaty. Those favouring a simple ban on future production prefer to call it a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT), while others such as Pakistan that support a broader treaty covering existing stocks prefer to term it as a Fissile Material Treaty (FMT).
It is a fact that the Shannon Mandate does not explicitly cover existing stocks. Pakistan, therefore, cannot join any discussion, pre-negotiation, negotiation or preparatory work on the basis of the Shannon Mandate. The Shannon Mandate has clearly outlived its utility and validity as the basis for substantive work on a treaty.
Some states argue that it would be extremely difficult to credibly account for and verify past fissile material production especially of material in classified form. However, as noted by leading experts of IPFM: I quote “The work done by the IPFM thus far encourages us to believe that it should be feasible technically for an FMT to capture under IAEA safeguards preexisting stocks of fissile material in civilian use, declared excess for military use, and in naval fuel reserves and to verify the treaty about as well as the NPT can be verified in non-nuclear-weapon States. The political task of persuading States to agree to such constraints and access, however, may be the more difficult challenge.” Unquote.
My delegation rejects the assertion that it is not technically or practically feasible to deal with the accounting and safeguarding of existing stocks. It is only through the inclusion of existing fissile material stocks that the treaty would be able to make a contribution towards nuclear disarmament. A simple perpetuation of the status quo, by only banning future production, would freeze the existing asymmetries to the strategic advantage of those states that possess larger stockpiles, and hence would be detrimental to regional and global strategic stability. Nuclear weapons possessing states that are comfortable with their huge fissile material stocks, that not only fulfil their current needs but also provide them the hedge against future uncertainties, are not ready accept any linkage of the treaty with nuclear disarmament or bilateral asymmetries.
For a treaty to be comprehensive, non-discriminatory and credible, and make a genuine contribution to nuclear disarmament, it would have to include existing stockpiles of fissile material in its scope. This is not a technical or legal choice, but a political decision that is both desirable and doable.
Pakistan submitted to the CD in 2015 a Working Paper which included a proposal for dealing with the existing stocks of fissile material. It offers a viable and comprehensive option. The simplicity and practicality of our proposal posed a challenge to those states that have a dogmatic opposition to the inclusion of existing stocks. We find these states as being completely fixated on ensuring that stocks are NOT covered under the treaty, in order to preserve their respective strategic advantages and preferential positions. It also explains their insistence on retaining the Shannon Mandate as the basis for negotiations. These states clearly want the treaty to be a horizontal non-proliferation instrument only – that is not only cost free for their security calculus but that also does not entail any additional obligation beyond what they are already applying voluntarily.
Particularly discomforted are those states that have stockpiled vast amounts of unsafeguarded fissile material under the garb of civilian uses. Such hedging is also done by those states that have ostensibly announced upper ceilings for their respective nuclear weapons arsenals, but continue to hold on to hundreds of tons of fissile material far in excess of their own self-declared needs. Our proposal would compel these states to, first, account for all their fissile material production; second, accurately characterize all their fissile material stocks; and third, preclude the possibility of their use in nuclear weapons by safeguarding them under a verification regime.
Pakistan believes that a treaty which only results in a cut-off in the production of fissile material, as envisaged under the Shannon Mandate, would jeopardize our security, unless it addresses the vast asymmetries in existing stocks of fissile material. This predicament has been accentuated by the exercise of double standards and discrimination in the application of non-proliferation norms through the conclusion of certain bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreements, the grant of inequitable waivers, and the continued pursuit of the creation of additional country-specific exceptions in the non-proliferation and multilateral export control regimes.
A true breakthrough on a fissile material treaty can only be achieved through a genuinely cooperative effort among all stakeholders that respects their respective national security concerns. Existing stocks would have to be included, upfront and explicitly, in the treaty’s scope and negotiating mandate to conclude a truly non-discriminatory and comprehensive treaty that fulfills the objectives of disarmament, non-proliferation and contributes to regional and global strategic stability.
I thank you, Mr. Coordinator.