The Geneva Conference on Disarmament (CD) reached another arms control milestone last week. It has decided to proceed with negotiations of a multilateral ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. A "cutoff" treaty effectively would cap the amount of fissile material presently available for nuclear weapons worldwide with a binding international commitment and would strengthen the international non-proliferation regime.
A cutoff treaty is a high priority for the United States. In September 1993 at the UN, President Clinton proposed and said the United States would press for a multilateral agreement to halt production of highly-enriched uranium and separated plutonium for nuclear explosives or outside international safeguards. The United States advocates the earliest possible completion of a cutoff treaty.
On March 23, following a year of intensive consultations, CD member states unanimously decided to establish a committee to negotiate a cutoff treaty based on the 1993 UN General Assembly consensus resolution endorsing cutoff negotiations (48/75L). The 1993 UN resolution, which the United States cosponsored, expressed the conviction that a "nondiscriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices would be a significant contribution to nuclear nonproliferation in all its aspects."
The newly-established committee is expected to commence work in May, when the CD resumes session after the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference, under a chairman to be selected. The committee will report to the Conference on Disarmament on the progress of its work before the end of the 1995 session.