CD Negotiating Session Concludes without Progress
Boese, Wade, Arms Control Today
CONCLUDING ITS THIRD straight year without negotiations, the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD) met July 30-September 14 in Geneva and closed the last third of this year's negotiating session. The current CD president, Ambassador Roberto Betancourt-- Ruales of Ecuador, warned September 13 that all 66 conference members were greatly concerned about an erosion of the CD's credibility as the sole forum for disarmament negotiations.
Since its 1996 completion of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the conference has been unable to agree on which issues to negotiate next. The United States, along with its European and Asian allies, has sought negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty, which would ban the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium for weapons purposes. Other countries, led by India, have pressed for nuclear disarmament negotiations, and China has made preventing an arms race in outer space its top priority. All CD delegations must reach consensus before any negotiations can begin.
During the past year, all members publicly supported a fissile material cutoff treaty, but China and Russia tied beginning work on the cutoff treaty with starting negotiations on outer space. The United States opposed this linkage, claiming it would only conduct "exploratory discussions," but not negotiations, on outer space issues. Neither side would compromise, cementing the deadlock. …