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

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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