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FMCT and Issue Linkage 

In 1999, President Clinton announced that the US would once again pursue national missile defenses.  Following this announcement, China actively began to link progress on an FMCT to progress on a treaty on the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS) in the CD.  It is likely that China saw new US missile defenses as potentially threatening to their nuclear deterrent or regional power, and therefore decided it was necessary to keep the option open of resuming fissile material production for use in nuclear weapons to counter any new threat. 

When the US abrogated the ABM Treaty in 2002, Russia joined China in calling for the CD to negotiate a PAROS treaty, a move that further complicated the prospects for progress toward negotiating an FMCT.  However, in August 2003, China and Russia agreed to go forward with negotiating an FMCT based on the Shannon Mandate.  The Shannon Mandate requires any FMCT to be “effectively verifiable,” but the US declared in 2004 that it no longer believed an FMCT could be verifiable, and tabled a draft treaty to that effect in 2006.  This has created a new impasse in the CD on how to negotiate the terms of an FMCT.

More recently, the proposed US – India nuclear cooperation deal has made Pakistan more vocal in its opposition to an FMCT.  Both India and Pakistan continue to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons, and Pakistan fears that, under the terms of the cooperation agreement, India’s domestic resources would become available for weapons purposes while Pakistani fissile material and nuclear weapon production would be curtailed.   

Resources:

Reaching Critical Will

Nuclear Threat Initiative
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