13 March 1997
Mr. KREID (Austria):
Let me now turn to my second topic, namely nuclear disarmament, and state at the very outset that we have no reason to be despondent as to the progress achieved in this field. Certainly, we have not yet come to the end of the tunnel, but at least we can see a distant light of hope. This hope is epitomized by the acronyms NPT, CTBT, START I and START II, and by names like Tlatelolco, Rarotonga, Bangkok or Pelindaba.
It may well be argued that past advances were slow, perhaps even haphazard, lacking in systematic planning and blueprints. But they are nonetheless real, they are nonetheless reassuring, and they tell us, above all, one thing: Let us move on and let us not be too choosy and over-ambitious. Rather, let us take what we can get now. So if we are not able to solve the daunting issue of nuclear disarmament in one great stroke now, let us attend to what is feasible and in doing so add another valuable facet, namely a treaty on fissile material cut-off (FMCT), to this multifaceted edifice.
It is said that an FMCT would not be a genuine disarmament treaty, that it would mainly serve the purpose of nuclear Powers and perpetuate the inequality between the nuclear-weapon haves and have-nots. We believe that this is at least an incomplete, if not an erroneous, view. A cut-off treaty would, in our opinion, create far-reaching effects on nuclear disarmament. It would make existing unilateral commitments of nuclear-weapon States to end their production an obligation under a multilateral treaty and open the door to verification measures. Negotiations would inevitably have to touch upon the question of stockpiles, even if they would remain outside of the treaty, because it is hard to see how a cut-off could be verified without transparency with regard to existing stockpiles. Considering that today nuclear arms competition has shifted from the East-West conflict to other regions of the world, the treaty, by improving transparency and confidence, could attain importance also in a regional context. To borrow the words of an Indian diplomat, an FMCT would "reinforce the trend of moving towards a nuclear-weapon-free culture". It would put a sticker on fissile material for nuclear explosions which would not only read: "Keep off: radioactive radiation", but would also read "This material is not only dangerous, it is superfluous". The excess capacities in plutonium and highly enriched uranium are staggering indeed.