U.N. Disarmament Body Remains at Odds on 2014 Work Plan

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The international Conference on Disarmament meets in Geneva on Tuesday. The body's current rotating president, Israel, said there was no consensus among member states on a 2014 work program that would open negotiations on proposed new arms control accords.
National Journal
Rachel Oswald
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Rachel Oswald
Feb. 5, 2014, 6:38 a.m.

The in­ter­na­tion­al en­voy who cur­rently presides over a key U.N. dis­arm­a­ment body said con­sensus on the for­um’s 2014 agenda re­mains elu­sive.

As cur­rent ro­tat­ing pres­id­ent of the Con­fer­ence on Dis­arm­a­ment in Geneva, Is­rael’s Evi­atar Man­or polled del­eg­a­tions to the 65-na­tion con­fer­ence to see if there was un­an­im­ous agree­ment on a work pro­gram for the new year. Find­ing no con­sensus “due to the di­ver­gence of views among the mem­ber states,” Man­or pro­posed ex­tend­ing the man­date for the rest of the year of an in­form­al work group to as­sist in reach­ing agree­ment on a work plan, ac­cord­ing to a Tues­day U.N. press re­lease.

For more than 15 years, the Geneva-based con­fer­ence has been dead­locked over open­ing in­ter­na­tion­al ne­go­ti­ations on any of a vari­ety of new arms con­trol pro­pos­als. The United States and oth­ers fa­vor be­gin­ning talks on an ac­cord that would ban the pro­duc­tion of new fis­sile ma­ter­i­al, but Pakistan is call­ing for any such ne­go­ti­ations to take in­to ac­count glob­al ex­ist­ing stocks of weapon-grade ma­ter­i­al.

Man­or, Is­rael’s per­man­ent rep­res­ent­at­ive to the United Na­tions in Geneva, said he found strong sup­port from mem­ber states for con­tinu­ing the activ­it­ies of the less form­al work­ing group. It was es­tab­lished last year with the task of de­vel­op­ing an agenda for car­ry­ing out new arms con­trol talks.

In a Tues­day speech to the con­fer­ence, Rose Got­te­moeller, act­ing U.S. un­der­sec­ret­ary of State for arms con­trol and in­ter­na­tion­al se­cur­ity, re­af­firmed the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s policy that ne­go­ti­ations on a fis­sile-ma­ter­i­al cutoff treaty should hap­pen be­fore any oth­er dis­arm­a­ment ob­ject­ive.

“It has been frus­trat­ing to watch the [Con­fer­ence on Dis­arm­a­ment] re­main dead­locked over this is­sue, but ne­go­ti­ation of an FMCT is an es­sen­tial pre­requis­ite for glob­al nuc­le­ar dis­arm­a­ment,” she said.

Oth­er na­tions, in­clud­ing Pakistan, would prefer that any talks on a fis­sile-ma­ter­i­al ban hap­pen sim­ul­tan­eously with oth­er arms con­trol mat­ters, in­clud­ing provid­ing se­cur­ity as­sur­ances to non-nuc­le­ar weapon states.

Mean­while, the Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee by ac­clam­a­tion on Tues­day ap­proved Got­te­moeller’s nom­in­a­tion to take over per­man­ently in the key arms con­trol po­s­i­tion at State. Also ap­proved by the com­mit­tee was the nom­in­a­tion of Frank Rose, deputy as­sist­ant sec­ret­ary of State for space and de­fense policy, to suc­ceed Got­te­moeller as the State De­part­ment’s point per­son on arms con­trol treaty veri­fic­a­tion and com­pli­ance.

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