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

Statement from the Norwegian Delegation

Mr. Chairman,

Norway has long been on record in advocating an early start of negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for weapons purposes - FMCT. At the first NPT prepcom in 1997, we presented some additional thoughts on how to deal with another important aspect of the problem of fissile material; stockpiles related to military inventories. In statements to the CD we have expanded further these ideas.

Today, let me set out how Norway proposes that the entire field of weapons usable fissile

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material is dealt with in a comprehensive manner. We believe this is important, since weapons usable fissile material represents a challenge to nuclear non-proliferation as well as nuclear disarmament. The disarmament process requires strict procedures for safe handling, storage and disposal of sensitive nuclear materials as well as safe management of radioactive contaminants in compliance with high standards of environmental protection and nuclear safety. Stockpiles of weapons usable fissile material give rise to general problems and represents increased danger in terms of proliferation which needs to be addressed,

It is important to address the entire field of weapons usable fissile material in a comprehensive manner. The international community must find ways of dealing with the various elements in an overall context. Multilateral initiatives are desirable because important common security interests on national, regional and international levels are at stake, and because current unilateral and bilateral approaches are not sufficient. We should seek agreement on a set of principles that would contribute to the establishment of an international norm for states in dealing with weapons usable fissile material. This norm should define broad obligations of states and guide their subsequent actions in dealing with such material.

In this context, the following four segments within the area of weapons usable fissile material need to be addressed as mutually reinforcing parts of a whole if we are to achieve satisfactory results:

future production, stockpiles related to excess weapons material, highly enriched uranium for non-explosive purposes and stockpiles related to military inventories.

The first segment is future production . The commencement of negotiations for a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices is the next step in the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts, as envisaged in the Principles and Objectives Document of 1995. The CD has the responsibility for getting such negotiations on track and this challenge must be the priority for this forum. Thus, the Ad hoc committee to negotiate a FMCT should be reestablished immediately. Such a treaty is not only a contribution to, but an integral and indispensable part of nuclear disarmament and an important step towards a world free of nuclear weapons.

However, focusing exclusively on a ban on future production is not enough. The issues of stockpiling and highly enriched uranium for non-explosive purposes must also be dealt with. This leads us to the second and third segment within this area.

The second segment Weapons usable fissile material that are now surplus or in excess of military requirement, must be multilaterally addressed. Fissile material that has been removed from the military production cycle and is redundant is steadily increasing. It represents increased danger in terms of proliferation. It also represents danger in terms of human health and to environmental safety. The task of developing an effective mechanism for the management of disarmament, including excess fissile material, is not only a challenge to nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. It also affect important societal concerns such as environmental safety. Inventories of such material should no longer have the status of military non-verifiable material. It should gradually be made subject to a transparent, non-military and civilian regime subject to international verification. It is important to recognise that this material cannot be transferred instantaneously from military to the civilian sector, and that the steps involved in doing so will be complex, time-consuming and expensive. Serious consideration should be given to developing and establishing an international norm for states in dealing with stockpiles of surplus material. Such a norm should ensure

- irreversibility, that is, that none of these stocks should be returned or diverted to weapon programmes and the material should be rendered inaccessible to military use as soon as practicable.

- security, that is, that the stocks are made secure from theft and sabotage,

- safety, that is, that the material does not harm human health or the environment.

- national control, that is, the development of an effective international standard for material accounting and self-auditing which will help to improve national control of such stocks.

The third segment , highly enriched uranium produced for non-explosive purposes and used as fuel for the propulsion of naval reactors, also involves a risk of proliferation and is cause for concern. We should address this issue in a multilateral context with a view to improving safety and the control of such material. We should also consider devising arrangements to ensure that this material is in fact used for non-explosive purposes by confirming both the amount of the material intended for such use and the actual area of use. When confirming the amount of the material, this should be done without specific reference to its design and composition.

The issues of stockpiles related to excess weapons material and highly enriched uranium for non-explosive purposes should be included in a multilateral process to be established in parallel to the FMCT negotiations in Geneva. One could consider whether the IAEA should play a role in facilitating a process to this end. This process could serve as a valuable complementary measure with an advantageous impact on the negotiations.

When it comes to the fourth segment , stockpiles related to military inventories, Norway presented at the first Prepcom in 1997 a four-step proposal for increased transparency and confidence-building measures for such material through provisions for voluntary measures. The proposal emphasises the importance of establishing voluntary measures that would increase transparency on holdings of plutonium and highly enriched uranium through reporting, inspection and safeguard procedures with a view to introducing agreed, monitored net reductions from these stockpiles.

Mr. Chairman,

Norway proposes that the following elements be included in the Chairman's working paper:

The entire field of weapons usable fissile material needs to be addressed in a comprehensive manner in order to establish an international norm to define obligations and guide actions for states in dealing with weapons usable fissile material.

In addition to a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices, the following issues should be dealt with:

1. Establishing a parallel multilateral process regarding stockpiles related to excess weapons material and highly enriched uranium for non-explosive purposes.

2. Establishing a multilateral process regarding stockpiles related to military inventories through provisions for voluntarv measures with a view to increased transparency and confidence-building

We will distribute this proposal to the secretariat as an official working paper, and are delighted to discuss it with other delegations.

Thank you,

Mr Chairman