Pakistan blocked the consensus needed to establish a program of work for the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament (CD) on March 15, continuing the negotiating body’s 16-year stalemate. For the past several years, Islamabad has been the only country blocking agreement to begin negotiations on a treaty banning the production of nuclear materials for weapons. The CD is the sole multilateral negotiating body on disarmament.
The proposed program of work called for the establishment of four working groups, one of which would explore elements of negotiating a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT).
Zamir Akram, Pakistan’s ambassador to the CD, said March 13 he could not accept FMCT negotiations that do not “clearly include the reduction of [existing] stocks of fissile materials for nuclear weapons.” For years, Pakistan has voiced concern over its fissile material gap with India and has said it would not sign an FMCT that would lock the disparity in place.
Akram has said that giving Pakistan a Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver similar to the one granted to India might address this concern. In 2008, India was exempted from NSG requirements that nuclear-export recipients place all their nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
In a Jan. 24 address to the CD, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the forum’s consensus rule was currently being used “as a de facto veto power to stall every attempt to break the impasse.”
A number of countries, including the United States, have raised the possibility of negotiating an FMCT outside the CD if delays continue. (See ACT, October 2011.)