(As delivered)


August 14, 2003

Mr. President,
Distinguished delegates,

At the outset, allow me to express my appreciation to you, Mr. President, for your energy and enthusiasm in conducting the presidency of the Conference at a time where pessimism and cynicism is closing in on us. The positive attitude you have adopted gives me great courage as I prepare to succeed to the presidency at such a difficult juncture.

I was also encouraged by the new flexibility that has been shown by the delegation of China on the issue of the program of work of the Conference. I am convinced that all States will now have to pay even more attention to the current situation of the CD and I particularly look forward to China and the United States further engaging in fruitful discussion on this issue. I am hopeful that, in the near future, the Conference will be able to reach agreement on its program of work based on past proposals, including that of the five ambassadors. At the same time, I concur with you, Mr. President, on the need to pursue an approach through which the Conference can contribute to international peace and security in a substantial manner, pending agreement on its program of work.

Mr. President,

I have asked for the floor today to introduce a working paper on a treaty to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other explosive devices (FMCT). This is part of efforts my government has been making to engage the Conference in substantial debate on its most pertinent issues, even if the Conference falls short of performing its fundamental function, disarmament negotiation. I believe that, when the establishment of ad hoc committees is not possible, conducting substantial debates at plenary meetings is a highly meaningful exercise.

For the past decade, the FMCT has been the priority in multilateral nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation for the international community, and will be more so in the future due to the growing threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to States and non-state actors, such as terrorists. The fact that the CD is still unable to start FMCT negotiations is jeopardising the relevance of this institution to international peace and security. It also has negative implications for the regime of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Japan has been doing its utmost to promote this priority issue from our capital, as well as here in Geneva. The purpose of this working paper is primarily to structure discussion on the FMCT. It categorises various issues related to the Treaty under three headings: (1) scope, (2) technical deliberations including verification and (3) organisational and legal issues. We believe that such structuring will facilitate understanding on related issues and provide a useful format for multilateral debate.

Firstly, future negotiations will have to define the scope of the FMCT. The question of whether the FMCT should deal with the issue of existing stocks has not been settled in the Shannon report (CD/1299) and is likely to be the most controversial issue in future negotiations. Several options have been discussed to deal with it, ranging from its total exclusion to the inclusion of legally binding provisions dealing with the matter. Japan is at this stage open on this matter to any suggestions that are conducive to further nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and also to the facilitation of the FMCT negotiation process.

On the other hand, the Shannon mandate clearly precludes fissile material for peaceful purposes from the scope of the prohibition. This question should not be reopened.

Secondly, substantial technical deliberations should be focused on future production. Such deliberations should elaborate a verification system. Any tactics to link the banning of future production with the issue of existing stocks will unnecessarily prolong negotiations and be harmful to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. The argument that technical issues can only be dealt with after the scope of the Treaty is determined is not viable.

An internationally effective verification system needs to be created for the FMCT. With respect to the modality of verification, a comprehensive and a focused approach have been proposed and discussed extensively. Which approach will be the optimum solution is an important but difficult question. In order to find an answer to this question, it will be necessary to consider factors such as security benefits, confidentiality, effectiveness of verification and cost-efficiency.

It is generally considered that the IAEA safeguards measures provided by both the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and the Additional Protocol will provide a good basis for the considerations of a future verification system for "banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other explosive devices." Therefore, additional obligation should not, in principle, be imposed on non-nuclear-weapon States which conclude both the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and the Additional Protocol.

Given the variety and complexity of issues under technical deliberation, the idea to establish, in advance of commencement of negotiations, a group of experts similar to the one established for technical work on the verification of the CTBT, merits serious consideration. It will be useful to prepare a common knowledge ground for future negotiations on the issues that are technically complicated but also require difficult political judgements.

Finally, in order to facilitate negotiations on the FMCT verification system, it would be beneficial to make full use of past experience, expertise and infrastructure to the extent comparable with the scope and aim of the FMCT. This issue should also be discussed in terms of such an organisation's potentiality for becoming the future organisation to verify nuclear disarmament and, ultimately, underpin the nuclear-weapon-free world.

I will ask the Secretariat of the Conference to circulate this working paper as a CD official document.

Thank you.

Related Information (Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT))

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