Saturday 21 Jul 2018 | 09:42 | SYDNEY
Saturday 21 Jul 2018 | 09:42 | SYDNEY

FMCT: Now the hard work begins


Rory Medcalf


2 June 2009 16:11

Finally, after more than a decade’s deadlock, the Conference on Disarmament has agreed to begin negotiations on a treaty to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty or FMCT. Get used to that acronym.

Central to this step forward has been the US change of policy under the Obama Administration, to accept that such a treaty would need verification. And it seems China has eased its earlier insistence that there could be no progress on the FMCT unless the Conference did serious work on some other issues, including the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (partly code for seeking to outlaw or constrain missile defence).

These are welcome moves because FMCT should be in everyone’s interest; it will be a crucial building block to any serious initiative for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

What now? The most difficult players in the talks could well be India and Pakistan, since they are widely believed to be the only nuclear-armed countries currently producing fissile material for weapons (oh, apart from North Korea). 

Still, India’s rhetoric of support for FMCT is strong and unequivocal; it restated this on the eve of the approval of its civil nuclear deal with Washington last year.

Photo by Flickr user Speedy314, used under a Creative Commons license.