Treaty banning fissile material production ‘unacceptable’, says Pakistan


United Nations : Pakistan told the world community Tuesday that its opposition to the start of talks on a treaty to ban production of fissile material used as fuel for nuclear weapons stemmed from the actions of “some powerful states” that have changed the strategic environment of South Asian region.

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“Over the past few years, some powerful countries, in pursuit of their commercial interests as well as dubious notions of balance of power, have embarked upon an unfettered and discriminatory nuclear cooperation arrangement in gross violation of their international commitments,” Ambassador Zamir Akram told the General Assembly’s Disarmament and International Security Committee.

“This has accentuated our security concerns as such nuclear cooperation shall further widen the asymmetry in stockpiles in our region,” he added.

Akram, who is Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN’s European offices in Geneva, did not name any country in his speech, but he obviously had in mind mainly the U.S.-India nuclear deals.

Also, it is well known that India has a larger stock of fissile material than Pakistan does, and a greater capacity to build warheads.

“Thus, an FMCT (Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty) that purports only to ban future production of fissile material, will permanently freeze a strategic disadvantage for Pakistan, and is therefore unacceptable to us,” the senior Pakistani diplomat said.

“Clearly it is not through choice but necessity that Pakistan is opposed to negotiations on an FMCT,” he added.

Since January, Pakistan’s has been blocking the launching of negotiations on the proposed treaty at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on the ground that it prejudicial to its national security interests.

With the introduction of the treaty into the agenda of the Conference in 1994, Akram said Pakistan had called attention to the fact that a treaty to cut off future production of fissile material would freeze the existing asymmetries in fissile material stockpiles, which would be detrimental for its national security.

Accordingly, Pakistan had been advocating a treaty that not only banned future production, but also aimed at reducing existing stockpiles of fissile material.

A growing asymmetry in military capabilities between major Powers and medium and small States had further increased insecurity among States, and in crucial regions, the pursuit of great power politics had destabilized tenuous regional balance, Akram told delegates from around the world.

The Pakistani delegate asserted, as the committee’s general debate came to a close, that some States had been denied the right to peaceful nuclear cooperation, while others were helped in promoting unsafeguarded nuclear programmes and building and upgrading strategic weapon systems, including anti-ballistic ones, thereby accelerating vertical nuclear proliferation.

He pointed out that the current hiatus in the Conference on Disarmament was not unprecedented. That body had not undertaken negotiations for any multilateral instrument since it last concluded the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1995.

Yet, Akram pointed out it was only now, after more than a decade, that certain countries had questioned its relevance, seeking ways to revitalize its functioning and even proposing to seek alternative venues.

By undermining it in that way, those countries would open the Conference up to the possibilities of negotiating other of its agenda items in alternative venues as well.

That grim situation undermined the efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament, arms control and non proliferation, he said.

Instead of nuclear disarmament, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons had become the only goal, and even that goal was pursued selectively.

He said that a growing asymmetry in military capabilities between major Powers and medium and small States had further increased insecurity among States.

In crucial regions, the pursuit of great power politics had destabilised tenuous regional balance.

Attempts to forge a new consensus on arms control and disarmament required the convening of a fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.

That alone could ensure genuine and complete ownership of the outcome by all States. In discussing that issue, Pakistan had been puzzled when some powerful nations argued that such a session had been overtaken by events, yet they opposed its convening.

Pakistan, he added, was also dismayed by arguments from some States that the United Nations disarmament machinery, in particular the Conference on Disarmament, had become dysfunctional, owing to its rule of procedure, he said.

In reality, the decade-old stalemate in that Conference and the overall international disarmament machinery had nothing to do with rules of procedure; it was the lack of political will on the part of some major Powers to pursue disarmament negotiations on the basis of equal security of all States, as accepted in the first special session devoted to disarmament.

The United Nations disarmament machinery and the Conference on Disarmament, in particular, were not handmaiden to the whims of the major Powers or a device to confer legitimacy on their pursuit of discriminatory policies, the Pakistan delegate said.