Negotiations Begin On New Disarmament Step

  • Simon Upton
Disarmament and Arms Control

News that negotiations on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) would begin in Geneva shortly was welcomed today as a major breakthrough by Acting Disarmament and Arms Control Minister Simon Upton.

"New Zealand has argued strongly for these negotiations so I am greatly encouraged that the Conference on Disarmament is ready to begin," Mr Upton said.

A Cutoff Treaty would halt the production of fissile material (weapons-grade plutonium and uranium) for nuclear weapons, and was an essential next step towards nuclear disarmament, following on from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), Mr Upton said.

"Just as the CTBT puts constraints on the improvement of nuclear weapons, the proposed Cutoff Treaty will limit their production, and put fissile material under strict international safeguards."

Mr Upton said the United Nations, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review process, and the Conference on Disarmament itself had all previously acknowledged the importance of starting the Cutoff Treaty negotiations. The agreement of Pakistan and India to participate removed the final blocks to agreement on negotiations.

"Fortunately all members of the Conference on Disarmament have now agreed to take part in the negotiations, which will begin in January, and our Disarmament Ambassador Clive Pearson will ensure New Zealand takes an active part in a significant disarmament initiative."