Conference on Disarmament Focuses on Chemical Weapons Ban, Nuclear Tests

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Conference on Disarmament focuses on chemical weapons ban, nuclear tests

A large part of the work of the Conference on Disarmament at its 1990 session was devoted to the ongoing elaboration of a multilateral convention on the complete and effective prohibition of the development, production and stockpiling of chemical weapons and their destruction. Work also resumed, after a seven-year hiatus, on a nuclear-test ban.

The Conference--the world's single forum for multilateral disarmament negotiations--concluded its 1990 session on 24 August in Geneva. The first part of the 1990 session was held from 6 February to 24 April and the second part from 12 June to 24 August.

The Conference consists of the five nuclear-weapon States (China, France, USSR, United Kingdom and United States), members of other militarily significant States, as well as neutral and non-aligned countries which form the Group of 21. Non-members have been invited, upon their request, to participate in its work.

Within the framework of its permanent agenda of 10 items, the Conference considered the following major disarmament issues: nuclear-test ban; cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament; prevention of nuclear war, including all related matters; chemical weapons; prevention of an arms race in outer space; effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons; new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons; radiological weapons; and comprehensive programme of disarmament.

The Conference agreed on a number of recommendations aimed at its improved and effective functioning. It also reaffirmed its decision that membership might be increased by not more than four States.

On 17 July, the Conference re-established an Ad Hoc Committee on a Nuclear-Test Ban following a seven-year hiatus. It had been asked to initiate, as a first step towards achieving a nuclear-test-ban treaty, substantive work on specific and interrelated test-ban issues, including structure and scope as well as verification and compliance. France confirmed its previously announced decision to refrain from participating in the work of that Committee.

The Committee was also asked to examine institutional and administrative arrangements necessary for establishing, testing and operating an international seismic monitoring network as part of an effective verification system of a nuclear-test-ban treaty.

Mitsuro Donowaki of Japan was appointed Chairman of the Committee, which held six meetings from 20 July to 17 August. The Chairman also conducted informal consultations with delegations.

In its conclusions and recommendations to the Conference, the Committee said it had carried out a preliminary examination of specific and interrelated test-ban issues. Those initial discussions were useful in preparing the ground for further consideration of the issue. It was agreed that substantive work on a nuclear-test ban should continue in 1991.

The Ad Hoc Group of Scientific Experts to Consider International Co-operative Measures to Detect and Identify Seismic Events continued work on measures that might be adopted in the future for the international exchange of seismological data under a treaty prohibiting nuclear-weapon tests, covering nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes in a protocol which would be an integral part of the treaty. …