Fissile Material Production Cutoff Treaty [FMCT] Excerpts


20 March 1997

Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva
on Thursday, 20 March 1997, at 10 a.m.
President: Mr. Berdennikov (Russian Federation)

Mrs. BJERKE (Norway):


Several ideas have been launched to suggest how we could proceed on a broad scale in our efforts to address the nuclear issues. Some constructive ideas have been put forward in the report of the Canberra Commission. In our own approach to the wider problems related to nuclear activities, we have two basic assumptions. Firstly, it is increasingly evident that the potential risks of proliferation are inherent in both military and civilian nuclear activities. Secondly, the international disarmament agenda should also encompass the so-called "management of disarmament". The "management of disarmament" concerns the problems relating to the implementation of nuclear and chemical disarmament processes in particular, including the secure and environmentally safe handling of material from weapons scheduled for destruction. As a response to the serious challenges posed by these activities, the Norwegian Government has drawn up a plan of action on nuclear activities and chemical weapons in areas adjacent to our northern borders. One priority area of this plan is the management, storage and disposal of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. Our goal is, in cooperation with other interested States, to achieve safe, cost-effective operations under an independent control and inspection mechanism, and in keeping with internationally accepted principles and guidelines.

Negotiations on an agreement prohibiting the production of fissile material for weapons purposes should be the next major item on the agenda of the CD. After the conclusion of the CTBT this would be in accordance with the "Principles and objectives" agreed at the NPT Review Conference in 1995. A cut-off agreement is an important means of reducing the availability of fissile material. The inclusion of measures to monitor enrichment and reprocessing facilities would strengthen a "cut-off" treaty. Such monitoring could be applied without undue interference with remaining military stockpiles.

We should work towards greater openness regarding the stocks of fissile material held by nuclear Powers. As a first step, the nuclear Powers should, on a voluntary basis, provide detailed information on their stocks of plutonium and highly enriched uranium. A second step could be to ensure cooperative measures to clarify and confirm those declarations. As a third step, the nuclear Powers could permit international inspection of their stocks, with the aim of ensuring that the inventory in storage can be taken out only for non-weapons purposes. As a fourth step, agreed monitored net reductions from these stockpiles could be introduced. Finally, as a last step in this context, consistent and stringent international standards of accounting and security for fissile materials might be established. Greater transparency is an essential confidence-building measure. Done in parallel, this would also facilitate cut-off negotiations.


Mr. NASSERI (Islamic Republic of Iran):


The approach that has been taken up so far apparently has been that there are some difficult areas and issues which we have to first resolve, and then other items on the agenda will simply fall in place. We are beginning to think that perhaps we are not taking the best and the most appropriate approach at this juncture, continuing to hope that some delegations which have some strong national positions on certain issues, which we do respect and we should fully respect, would eventually be able to show some flexibility. But simply waiting for that time, that magical time, to happen may not be the best way that this Conference can hope to be able to engage in real and actual work.

There are areas where there seems to be, at least, no objection at this stage. So in our view, perhaps it is better to concentrate on those areas, get some work started, and at the same time continue our consultations in some regulated way in order to arrive at a conclusion on other more difficult issues. It is in this light that we are proposing today, formally, a programme of work, which I assume has just been distributed. I believe it is self-explanatory. The Conference, in our view, can move immediately to establish two ad hoc committees, one on NSA, where we already have a consensus mandate, which has been the basis the negotiations of the Ad Hoc Committee in the past and is simply the continuation of those negotiations, and the other on agenda item 7, Transparency in armaments.

The Conference of course cannot limit itself to the work of these two ad hoc committees. We therefore are proposing that a special coordinator be appointed to deal with issues under item 1 of the agenda and to report to us as to what would be the best arrangement to be followed by the Conference.

The same goes for item 6 of the agenda, where we also propose that a special coordinator be appointed. Of course, this is for the programme of work as far as the items on the agenda are concerned. Consultations have been going on about appointing special coordinators on the agenda and on the expansion of the membership, which has not been mentioned here.

We should at the same time recognize that we are more or less pressed by time. That is, we cannot, for instance, have special coordinators who would report to us at the end of this year, and then we leave and come back next year and be in the same position. Therefore, in our proposal, we have suggested that the Conference will receive an interim report by the end of May and a final report no later than mid-June 1997. And mid-June means a few days before the end of the second part of the session. And there our intention is, one way or the other, to really come to a conclusion on these other issues as much as possible by the end of the second part of the session, so that at least for the third part of the session we will know where we stand.


The meeting rose at 11.20 a.m.