I congratulate you on your appointment as Coordinator of Subsidiary Body 2 on the “prevention of nuclear war, including all related matters”, in accordance with Decisions CD/2119 and CD/2126. I assure you of my delegation’s full support and active participation. As per the agreed Timetable, the first five meetings of this Subsidiary Body will have a general focus on the ban of the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices. Taking note of your letter of 26 April 2018, I shall deliver introductory remarks of a general nature outlining our national position on this issue. We will follow up in the subsequent sessions with further interventions on specific issues that might come under discussion.
- Pakistan’s consistent position on a Fissile Material Treaty, or FMT, is well known and remains unchanged. It is based on the following overarching principles:
First, the treaty should provide equal and undiminished security for all States. As recognized by SSOD-I, in the adoption of disarmament measures, the right of each state to security should be kept in mind, and at each stage of the disarmament process, the objective should be undiminished security at the lowest possible level of armaments and military forces.
Second, the treaty should contribute both to the objectives of nuclear disarmament as well as non-proliferation.
Third, in addition to a ban on future production, the treaty must also cover the past production of fissile materials, in order to address the asymmetries in fissile material holdings at the regional and global levels.
Fourth, the treaty should neither discriminate between the different nuclear-weapon states, nor between the nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear weapon states. All States Parties should assume equal obligations without any preferential treatment for any category of States.
Fifth, the treaty should be free of any loopholes by encompassing all types of fissile materials usable in nuclear weapons including their transfers.
Sixth, the treaty should include a robust verification mechanism implemented by a representative and independent body under adequate oversight of States parties.
Seventh, the treaty should promote both regional and global stability and enhance confidence among all States Parties.
Eighth, the treaty should not affect the inalienable right of all States to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under effective safeguards preventing diversion to prohibited purposes.
Lastly, the treaty should be negotiated in the Conference on Disarmament, the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum. The CD includes all the relevant stakeholders and strictly operates under the consensus rule allowing each Member State to safeguard its vital interests. A treaty negotiated outside the CD will lack legitimacy and ownership, similar to the pseudo progress sought through UNGA-led divisive processes like GGEs and High Level Expert Groups.
- Any arms control, non-proliferation or disarmament treaty that diminishes the security of any State would be a non-starter, as evidenced by the failure of FMCT negotiations to kick off. No country can be expected to enter into negotiations on a treaty that would be detrimental to its national security, as was the case when a large group of countries refused to engage with the nuclear weapons Ban Treaty negotiations last year. The same logic and reasoning, that is, the invoking of national security concerns, is also employed by those States that oppose the start of negotiations on nuclear disarmament, prevention of an arms race in outer space and negative security assurances – which Pakistan supports.
- 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 contribute little to nuclear disarmament. It would jeopardize Pakistan’s security unless it addresses the vast asymmetries in existing stocks of fissile material. The situation has been further compounded by a blatant disregard for non-proliferation norms and the exercise of double standards for achieving short-sighted political objectives and economic benefits. It is manifest in the grant of inequitable waivers, the conclusion of bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreements, and the continued pursuit of the creation of additional country-specific exceptions in the non-proliferation and multilateral export control regimes. These discriminatory measures endanger regional strategic stability in South Asia.
- Among the states that possess nuclear weapons, most have either announced unilateral moratorium on the production of fissile material or attained a level of comfort through continued national production and the conclusion of special arrangements. It is only after amassing tons of fissile material, far in excess of any foreseeable defence need, that they were converted to the cause of FMCT. Unlike Pakistan, FMCT is a completely cost-free exercise for them. A cut-off treaty would not entail any significant obligation for these States. Also, for the non-nuclear weapon states parties to the NPT, an FMCT would not entail any new obligation. Their priorities clearly lie in making progress on nuclear disarmament and not in the creation of yet another non-proliferation instrument such as FMCT.
- Pakistan stands ready to consider a treaty on fissile material that covers existing stocks. In 2015, we put forward a detailed Working Paper in the CD on capturing the existing stocks in the treaty’s scope in a practical and meaningful manner. It would ensure that, in addition to a ban on future production, the existing fissile material stocks would not be used for manufacturing nuclear weapons. It also calls for mutual and balanced reduction of stocks on a regional or global basis to address their existing asymmetries. Such a treaty would genuinely promote nuclear disarmament, arrest vertical proliferation, and contribute to regional and global security and stability. We can elaborate on it further during the subsequent discussions.
- The Shannon Mandate does not guarantee the inclusion of existing stocks in the treaty’s scope. And from what we have repeatedly heard from the other nuclear weapons possessing states, this is precisely their preference in order to perpetuate their strategic advantage. These states clearly prefer a treaty that only prohibits future production – and not just as a matter of their national preference, but based on their interpretation of what in their view is a multilaterally agreed upon negotiating mandate. 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.
- Major divergences continue to persist on the most fundamental aspects of the treaty’s objective and scope, which need to be resolved before the commencement of negotiations to the satisfaction of all parties. And as long as consensus on these two fundamental aspects eludes us, as is the case now, any work towards other closely inter-linked elements such as definitions, verification, and legal and institutional issues, etc. is premature.
- It is high time to realize that progress on FMT can neither be achieved by changing the format or forum, nor through creative drafting, fudging or imposition of so-called solutions that ignore the views of major stakeholders. Real progress can only be achieved by addressing the security concerns of States that are opposing the start of negotiations. We also need to reconsider the negative effects on the treaty’s prospects generated by misguided policies, based on discrimination and double standards, driven by strategic and commercial considerations. The entire issue needs to be viewed in the broader security and strategic context.
I thank you, Mr. Coordinator.