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  Library Treaties Non-Proliferation Treaty, Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty Statement, 1999

Statement from the Canadian Delegation

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Canada and the negotiation of a treaty banning the production of fissile material (FMCT)

Mr. Chairman,

During the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review and Extension Conference, the States Parties, by virtue of the decision on the principles and objectives of nonproliferation and nuclear

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disarmament, undertook to immediately enter into negotiations aimed at concluding as soon as possible a non-discriminatory and effectively verifiable convention banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. In the year 2000, the Review Conference, as agreed in 1995 in the decision on reinforcing the NPT review process, must assess the results achieved over the preceding five-year period, including compliance with the commitments undertaken by the States Parties under the Treaty, and determine the areas where future progress is needed, as well as the means of achieving this progress.

With the 2000 Review Conference just one year away, it behooves us to examine what progress has been made in carrying out the 1995 commitment regarding the "immediate commencement and early conclusion" of negotiations on a convention banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. With regard to the "immediate commencement" of negotiations, we must point out that it was not until the summer of 1998 that the member States of the Conference on Disarmament were finally able to agree on and initiate the process for negotiating the future "cut-off" treaty. In terms of promptness, it could have been better, but at least the negotiating process got under way. Unfortunately, this progress-which began in a spirit of enthusiasm-proved to be short-lived. After only two pre-negotiation sessions in 1998, the process was suspended pending a decision on the Disarmament Commission's program of work for the year 1999.

Since January 18, the CD's activities have been confined to a sterile debate on how to implement each of the points in the draft program of work. As we have already indicated, Canada refuses to recognize any conditional link among the various points in the CD's draft program of work. We feel that if a consensus fails to emerge concerning the program of work as a whole, the CD should be able to take action in those areas where there is consensus. Consequently, we would like the CD to reestablish the special committee as soon as possible, with a mandate to negotiate a "cut-off" treaty.

The CD, which comprises 61 member States, was mandated by the 187 States Parties to the NPT to negotiate such a treaty. We should therefore take advantage of the opportunity offered to us in connection with this Preparatory Committee to remind the member States of the CD of the great importance that the States Parties to the NPT attach to the negotiation and conclusion of a "cut-off' treaty. Time is of the essence. The Conference on Disarmament must get to work at once, in a constructive spirit. The CD's credibility, if not its very future, hangs in the balance.

Canada has worked hard to define some of the major parameters which might guide the negotiations of a "cut-off" treaty that would take its place within this structure, the foundation of which is the NPT. In an address delivered on March 18, 1999 before the Conference on Disarmament, Canada outlined the main concepts which, in our opinion, will play a decisive role in the success of the negotiations. We also raised a number of strategic factors that will need to be looked at, as well as highlighting certain structural questions that we will need to resolve. We do not intend to rehash the details of the address here, but it might be useful to reiterate some of the points dealing with the NPT.

Canada has always argued that the treaty, which the States Parties to the NPT have undertaken to negotiate, responds both to nuclear disarmament concerns as well as imperatives concerning the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons; consequently, it will help to significantly reinforce the international regime anchored in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The negotiation of a "cut-off' treaty is a priority for Canada, because such a treaty will constitute an important element in the process that will eventually lead to the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

That said, it seems obvious that such a treaty, by virtue of its focussed nature, cannot in any way represent, even temporarily, an alternative to-far less a substitute for-the NPT. In other words, Canada opposes using the negotiations for the future "cut-off' treaty as a pretext for redefining, even partially, the system of disarmament and non-proliferation based on the NPT, to which almost the entire international community is party. This fundamental principle must inform every aspect of the new treaty, be it the provisions dealing with scope, verification, structures or mechanisms, but especially status, or the commitments and obligations of the States Parties. Thus, the future treaty must, among other things, conform to the principles set out by the NPT as to the possession of nuclear weapons, including the definition of "nuclear world" contained therein, with its five nuclear-weapon States, its 182 non-nuclear weapon States and those few states which are not yet States Parties.

On another point dealing with fissile materials, and still in keeping with the NPT's ultimate objective, i.e. complete nuclear disarmament, Canada has long been calling for systematic efforts to reduce and, in time, eliminate fissile material stockpiles used to produce nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Thus, while Canada does not intend to request that the question of stocks be included in the treaty proper, we feel it is nevertheless vital that, in parallel with the negotiation of the "cutoff" treaty, all States having stocks, and especially the five nuclear-weapon States, take measures (at the national, bilateral and multilateral levels) to enhance transparency and irreversibly reduce these stocks.

As an initial measure, Canada urges all States concerned, as a show of good faith, to immediately order a complete halt to their production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, and to announce an official moratorium as a means of confirming this initiative. To that end, we would ask the five nuclear-weapon States to show the political and moral leadership dictated by their privileges and responsibilities.


Canada intends to make a constructive contribution to responsible and serious negotiations. Our undiminished interest in the conclusion of a "cut-off' treaty has led us to actively promote practical initiatives such as the organization of two workshops, in partnership with The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS). I would like to welcome the presence, on the margins of this meeting, of an ISIS representative and would invite delegations of two workshops who wish more information regarding the issues at stake in relation to the future "cut-off' treaty, to contact this person either directly or through the Canadian delegation.

Mr. Chairman,

Canada is determined to negotiate, within a reasonable time frame, a viable, effective and credible treaty that will reinforce the international disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation regime. Accordingly, as a State Party to the NPT, Canada would like the Preparatory Committee of the 2000 Review Conference to remind members of the Conference on Disarmament of the mandate given to them in 1995 and encourage them to carry it out as soon as possible.

Thank you, Mr.Chairman.