Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty and options for India (NIAS Working Paper No. -1999)

Publication Type:

Working Paper


S Rajagopal


NIAS, Volume WP1, Number 81-87663-01-4, Bangalore (1999)





Fissile material cut-off was first proposed as a U.S-U.S.S.R arms control measure by President D. Eisenhower in 1956* but was rejected by U.S.S.R., since it felt that it was an American tactic to freeze them at an inferior level. In the intervening years, between 1956 and January 1989 when President Mikhail Gorbachev was willing to discuss the proposal, several developments took place (Annex-1), and attempts were made to stop production of fissile material but without any success. Despite the new Russian flexibility under Gorbachev, however, the Bush administration was opposed to the idea, most likely due to the U.S.S.R.?s nuclear stockpile being higher than that of the U.S. Indeed until 1993, the U.S. remained an opponent to cut-off when President Clinton revised the policy position from ?opposition? to ?advocacy.? In December 1993, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) passed a consensus resolution for negotiating a ?nondiscriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices.?1 The Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) is currently one of the most important items on the global nuclear agenda but yet the progress of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) has been highly unsatisfactory due to various reasons including: 1. Assigning a higher priority to Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) negotiations till 1996. 2. Debate on whether the cut-off should be prospective or retrospective. 3. Linkage to time-bound disarmament. 4. Concern over freezing stocks at different levels. 5. Lack of clarity on control, accounting and verification regime.


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