Since a reference was made to my country in the remarks delivered by the distinguished representative of the United States, I am compelled to take the floor to respond by providing an accurate historical context and highlighting the considerations that guide our position.
Contrary to the US statement that Pakistan formally blocked FMCT negotiations in 1999, 2007 and 2009, Pakistan joined the consensus on the adoption of the Shannon Mandate in 1995 and on the establishment of Adhoc Committees in 1998 and 2009 for FMCT negotiations. On each of these occasions Pakistan explained, on the record, that it was joining negotiations on the understanding and hope that existing stocks will be covered in the treaty’s scope.
Pakistan’s position on existing stocks has remained firm and consistent since the early 1990s, when the issue of fissile material was first introduced in the CD. Many governments changed hands during this period in Pakistan but our position on FMT remained unchanged due to its implications for our vital national security interests. In contrast, the US position has wavered between support for a verifiable treaty to submitting a treaty text in 2006 that did not include any verification provisions. In fact, it was the US position against verification that had stalled FMT negotiations during the 2000s.
Pakistan’s position evolved post-May 2009 because of the emergence of a new regional security paradigm that I shall shortly explain. By this time, after realizing that none of the other nuclear weapons possessing states supported the inclusion of existing stocks in the treaty’s scope, we lost faith in the Shannon Mandate and were no longer ready to jump blindfolded into treaty negotiations without having clarity on its outcome in particular on the issue of existing stocks.
The asymmetries that are at the heart of our concerns have been steadily worsening since 2009 because of the double standards applied in South Asia, including the grant of discriminatory waivers from long-held non-proliferation norms and destabilizing bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements. It was highly unrealistic to seek absolute security and unrestricted freedom of action for oneself, while expecting others to circumscribe their survival and peaceful existence.
It is hypocritical for a country that has over many decades produced and amassed hundreds of tons of fissile material far in excess of any foreseeable defence need, to call on others to join negotiations on a production cut-off treaty. It is also very bold for the same country to call out others for blocking negotiations on one issue, while itself blocking negotiations on virtually every other issue under consideration in the CD including nuclear disarmament, negative security assurances, prevention of an arms race in outer space, cyber security, lethal autonomous weapons, chemical and biological terrorism, etc.
Although my delegation supports substantive work on each one of these other issues, we also respect and understand if the reason for blocking negotiations is based on national security considerations. We expect the same understanding and respect for our position on FMCT. After all, this is how the CD has been set up – to work on the basis of consensus – in order to ensure that each member state is able to protect its vital security interests and only conclude treaties that result in equal and undiminished security for all states.
Declaration of unilateral voluntary moratorium cannot be projected as a virtue. It is indicative of nothing more than the fact that the country making the announcement has fissile material far in excess of its defence needs and does not need to produce more material. Such moratoriums are unverified voluntary declarations that can be easily reversed. If all states supporting FMCT negotiations are ready to announce such moratoria and consider them as a substitute for a treaty, then all of them can get together to multilateralism this voluntary arrangement among themselves. Pakistan is no position to announce such a moratorium or to join negotiations on a cut-off treaty.
A clarification is in order here: Pakistan is not opposed to a treaty on fissile material per se; rather, we are against a treaty that only results in a cut-off in the future production of fissile material, as envisaged under the Shannon Mandate. Pakistan would support negotiation of a treaty that guarantees the inclusion of stocks in a manner that addresses the regional and global asymmetries in their holdings. We have submitted a working paper in the CD outlining our proposals for covering existing stocks in the treaty’s scope in a practical and meaningful manner.
If states are genuinely committed to advance the fissile material issue, they should address the concerns of those countries that are objecting to the start of negotiations on the basis of the Shannon Mandate. They should also review their policies outside of this chamber that are compounding an already complex regional security dynamic. Unless the security concerns of all states are addressed, negotiations on an FMCT will remain stalled and blaming one another for the impasse will serve no useful purpose.
I thank you, Mr. Coordinator.