26 February 1998

Press Release



(Reissued as received.)

GENEVA, 26 February (UN Information Service) -- The Conference on Disarmament this morning continued to hear statements from its member States on how to tackle, among other issues, nuclear disarmament and a fissile material cut-off treaty, anti-personnel landmines and negative security assurances. Representatives of Belarus, Sri Lanka, France, Hungary, Venezuela and Canada addressed the meeting.




He said his country believed that after the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test- Ban Treaty (CTBT), a logical next step should be negotiations on banning the manufacture of fissile material. If the Conference were to succeed in that regard, a great step towards nuclear disarmament could be reached. An ad hoc committee on the prohibition of fissile material should be established.

- 3 - Press Release DCF/326 26 February 1998




He said that, regrettably, the Conference on Disarmament's priority agenda for the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons remained largely unrealized. No one believed that an ad hoc committee could or should proceed to immediate negotiations on any nuclear arms reduction. Yet, there was sufficient database to begin talks on a framework under which the shared objective of the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons could be pursued. It was time for the Conference to take at least a tentative step towards that deliberative process. Sri Lanka believed that a comprehensive regime on fissile material production and use in the context of a multilateral nuclear disarmament process was one of the most important barriers against more nuclear weapons and more nuclear-weapon States.


She said that France placed importance on three issues within the Conference: prohibition of fissile material; prohibition of anti-personnel landmines; and prevention of an arms race in outer space. Those three issues formed a balanced agenda for the Conference. The international community must consolidate what had so far been achieved in nuclear and conventional fields. It was important to ratify START II and to start negotiations on START III. Steps taken by States on unilateral reductions were also important.


- 4 - Press Release DCF/326 26 February 1998


Ambitions should not be limited to consolidating achievement, but new fields should also be opened to substantial negotiations, she continued. Negotiating a fissile material cut-off treaty was of great importance. If launching negotiations on that item were delayed, the Conference on Disarmament should informally discuss the issue in detail. Another new path which should be explored was the arms race in outer space. France looked forward to the reappointment of an ad hoc committee on this issue, or failing that, appointing a special coordinator. Yet, another path was the issue of small arms, and there was a need to ensure collecting such weapons in areas of conflict, especially right after a ceasefire.

She said that some might say that she had not mentioned nuclear disarmament, but that was not true since she had already mentioned the need for a fissile material cut-off treaty. That was a nuclear disarmament issue. It was also possible for the Conference on Disarmament to discuss other nuclear disarmament issues. Concerning negative security assurances, France had no objection to the immediate reappointment of an ad hoc committee on this item. The Conference had to give thought to overcoming obstacles facing it, and she suggested that maybe more work should be undertaken in a more informal manner.

PÉTER NARAY (Hungary) said that his country continued to believe that the Conference on Disarmament's programme of work should be based on negotiations which had realistic and feasible prospects of a successful conclusion. A fissile material cut-off treaty and a ban on the transfer of anti-personnel landmines corresponded to those criteria.

He said that a universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable ban on the production of fissile material for weapon purposes and other explosive devices along with the CTBT would consolidate the deep cuts in the arsenals of the major nuclear-weapon States and create the necessary conditions for the continuation of their bilateral efforts. The fissile material cut-off treaty was a necessary and basic component of the progressive measures towards nuclear disarmament, irrespective of whether those further measures were negotiated in a bilateral or multilateral framework. Everyone was urged to overcome the present obstacles to the negotiations of such a treaty and start them as soon as possible on the basis of the mandate of the Shannon report. The Canadian proposal on that issue was also a constructive attempt to hammer out a compromise.


- 5 - Press Release DCF/326 26 February 1998


* *** *