U.S. Urges Negotiations To Ban Material for Nuclear Bombs

By Jacquelyn S. Porth
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington – The United States urges prompt negotiations leading to a treaty to ban the production of the fissile material needed for nuclear weapons.

In a February 8 statement, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Conference on Disarmament in Switzerland said negotiating a legally binding ban on fissile material “cannot be delayed any longer.”

The United States offered a draft Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) text in May 2006 to set the stage for negotiations.  The treaty would ban the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other explosive devices. (See related article.)

During its first 2007 session, a number of nations represented at the multilateral forum in Geneva spoke out in favor of concluding such a treaty. Japan’s representative, for example, urged negotiations to commence immediately.

“This opportunity must not be lost,” said Ambassador Christina Rocca, the U.S. permanent representative to the disarmament conference. She said the draft text is both simple and complex, but also contains all elements necessary to support negotiations.

“To establish the legal norm in a treaty is, in itself, simple.  The discussions necessary to codify this ban will be complex,” Rocca said.  Still, she said the goal to end fissile material production is achievable and the international community “expects it of us.”

Rocca said there are many contentious issues to be addressed in treaty negotiations.  She also said that the draft U.S. mandate neither rules in, nor rules out, anything.  (See related text.)

“In our draft, stocks of already existing fissile material would be unaffected by the FMCT,” Rocca said.

To achieve a world free of nuclear weapons, a ban on the production of nuclear material for such weapons must be concluded, she added.

Rocca also restated the U.S. view that in advance of concluding a treaty to ban fissile material (and its entry into force), “all states should declare publicly and observe a moratorium on the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons, such as the United States has maintained since 1988.”

In additiona, she said fissile material production for nonexplosive purposes, such as for naval propulsion fuel, would not be affected by the successful conclusion of this treaty.

The full text of Rocca’s statement is available on the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva Web site.

For more information on U.S. policy, see Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.