Conference on Disarmament
Statement by Ambassador Peter Woolcott
Australian Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament and Ambassador for Disarmament
Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations, Geneva
26 June 2012
It will be an important and welcome series of achievements when we begin negotiating, then conclude and finally bring into force a treaty banning the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices in accordance with the report of the Special Coordinator of 1995 (CD/1299) and the mandate contained therein.
As Australia noted when it last spoke on this issue in the Conference, the conclusion of such a treaty will not be an end in itself; our work will need to continue. But a treaty banning the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices will be a significant step in irreversible nuclear disarmament and a milestone towards our shared destination of a world without nuclear weapons. After all, the pool cannot be drained if the tap is still turned on.
When the Conference last addressed this issue a few weeks ago, Australia and many other States noted the importance of moratoria on the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. This point was also emphasised by Ministers at the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of the NPDI in Istanbul on 16 June 2012.
Production moratoria cannot substitute legally binding, irreversible and effectively verifiable commitments through a treaty. Nevertheless, existing production moratoria (and for that matter, efforts in facility dismantlement and fissile material disposition) do build confidence and send clear signals about the need to move beyond production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
It is welcome that there are nuclear-weapons States which have declared their implementation of production moratoria. At the same time, regrettably, there are still States yet to indicate that they are not producing fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. And it is even more regrettable that production of such fissile material in some cases actually continues.
Australia holds no illusions about the many steps required to reach a world without nuclear weapons. But even as we await the long overdue entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, the international community no longer tolerates nuclear test explosions. And even as we await the long overdue negotiation of a treaty in accordance with CD/1299, the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices should no longer be a continuing reality.
Thank you, Mr President.