WASHINGTON — A global arms-control forum on Friday wrapped up its work for the year stuck in political gridlock that has hampered it since the 1990s, despite high-profile concerns among member nations and observers that the body faces a slide into irrelevancy.
The Conference on Disarmament’s latest session in Switzerland included the creation of a new working group aimed at breaking the entrenched stalemate.
However, “it is too early to say” if newly proposed approaches will get the Geneva-based forum back on a productive track, Tim Caughley, a one-time deputy secretary general of the forum, told Global Security Newswire by e-mail.
The conference has not done substantive work in recent years because of a conflict over a proposal for a worldwide ban on nuclear-weapon fuel production. The 65-nation conference in the 1990s laid diplomatic foundations for eventually prohibiting all chemical weapons and nuclear test explosions.
Pakistan has acted alone to block agreement on an agenda that includes work on the proposed bomb-fuel manufacturing ban. Islamabad has demanded that any discussions of a “fissile material cutoff treaty” also weigh potential caps on existing nuclear-weapon material, but that proposal has failed to gain traction in the 65-nation body.
“The Pakistanis are concerned that the FMCT would … not include existing stocks, and that would lock Pakistan into an inferior position vis-à-vis India,” Robert Litwak, a Clinton-era National Security Council nonproliferation director, told GSN in a brief phone interview.
The longtime rivals have spent years augmenting their respective nuclear arsenals, and experts on Thursday warned that the buildup appears to be taking an increasingly dangerous course.
Addressing the conference last Tuesday, Pakistani Ambassador Zamir Akram reaffirmed his country’s opposition to “any arrangement that is detrimental to its security and strategic interests.”
“As for the proposed fissile-material-cutoff treaty, Pakistan’s position will be determined by its national security interests and the objectives of strategic stability in South Asia,” Akram added in a written statement.
Broader nuclear-disarmament initiatives have faced opposition from nuclear-armed countries and others covered by “nuclear umbrellas,” said Caughley, a resident senior fellow with the U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research in Geneva.
The conference last month established an informal working group as a means of facilitating conversation among its members on how to move forward.
“The argument to Pakistan is you don’t have to go along with it, their accession is up to them as a national decision,” said Litwak, now a vice president at the Wilson Center think tank in Washington. “But at least there could be multilateral discussions and negotiations on it.”
As the forum began this year’s discussions in January, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned “it is essential to end this continued stalemate to avoid jeopardizing the credibility of the conference.”
Speaking at that time, a Hungarian diplomat who held the body’s rotating presidency warned that 2013 could be the body’s “make-or-break year.”
What We're Following See More »
Donald Trump's "transition team will meet next week with representatives of the tech industry, multiple sources confirmed, even as their candidate largely has been largely shunned by Silicon Valley. The meeting, scheduled for next Thursday at the offices of law and lobbying firm BakerHostetler, will include trade groups like the Information Technology Industry Council and the Internet Association that represent major Silicon Valley companies."
Today in bad news for Donald Trump:
- Newsweek found that a company he controlled did business with Cuba under Fidel Castro "despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal, according to interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings." In 1998, he spent at least $68,000 there, which was funneled through a consluting company "to make it appear legal."
- The Los Angeles Times reports that at a golf club he owns in California, Trump ordered that unattractive female staff be fired and replaced with prettier women.
In some of the first state-by-state surveys since Monday night's debate, Hillary Clinton has the edge in five battlegrounds, according to polls by Public Policy Polling. In four-way matchups, Clinton leads Donald Trump 46%-40% in Colorado, 45%-43% in Florida, 44%-42% in North Carolina, 45%-39% in Pennsylvania, and 46%-40% in Virginia. Gary Johnson doesn't top 7% in any state. Voters in all five states thought that Clinton decisively won the debate.