Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty

Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty

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The Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) is a proposed international treaty
A treaty is an express agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an agreement, protocol, covenant, convention or exchange of letters, among other terms...

 to prohibit the further production of fissile
In nuclear engineering, a fissile material is one that is capable of sustaining a chain reaction of nuclear fission. By definition, fissile materials can sustain a chain reaction with neutrons of any energy. The predominant neutron energy may be typified by either slow neutrons or fast neutrons...

 material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices. The treaty has not been negotiated and its terms remain to be defined. According to a proposal by the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, fissile material includes high-enriched uranium
Enriched uranium
Enriched uranium is a kind of uranium in which the percent composition of uranium-235 has been increased through the process of isotope separation. Natural uranium is 99.284% 238U isotope, with 235U only constituting about 0.711% of its weight...

 and plutonium
Plutonium is a transuranic radioactive chemical element with the chemical symbol Pu and atomic number 94. It is an actinide metal of silvery-gray appearance that tarnishes when exposed to air, forming a dull coating when oxidized. The element normally exhibits six allotropes and four oxidation...

 (except plutonium that is over 80% Pu-238). According to a proposal by Russia, fissile material would be limited to weapons-grade uranium (with more than 90% U-235) and plutonium (with more than 90% Pu-239). Neither proposal would prohibit the production of fissile material for non-weapons purposes, including use in civil or naval nuclear reactors.

In a 27 September 1993 speech before the UN, President Clinton called for a multilateral convention banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear explosives or outside international safeguards. In December 1993 the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 48/75L calling for the negotiation of a "non-discriminatory, multilateral and international effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices." The Geneva based Conference on Disarmament
Conference on Disarmament
Conference on Disarmament is a forum established by the international community to negotiate multilateral arms control and disarmament agreements...

 (CD) on 23 March 1995 agreed to a establish a committee to negotiate "a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.". However, substantive negotiations have not taken place.

In 2004, the United States announced that it opposed the inclusion of a verification mechanism in the treaty on the grounds that the treaty could not be effectively verified. On November 4, 2004. the United States cast the sole vote in the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

 against a resolution (A/C.1/59/L.34) calling for negotiation of an effectively verifiable treaty. The Bush Administration
Foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration
During his campaign for election as President of the United States, George W. Bush's foreign policy platform included support for a stronger economic and political relationship with Latin America, especially Mexico, and a reduction of involvement in "nation building" and other small-scale military...

 supported a treaty but advocated an ad hoc system of verification wherein states would monitor the compliance of other states through their own national intelligence mechanisms.
On April 5, 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 reversed the U.S. position on verification and proposed to negotiate "a new treaty that verifiably ends the production of fissile materials intended for use in state nuclear weapons." On May 29, 2009, the CD agreed to establish an FMCT negotiating committee,

However, Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

has repeatedly blocked the CD from implementing its agreed program of work, despite severe pressure from the major nuclear powers to end its defiance of 64 other countries in blocking international ban on the production of new nuclear bomb-making material, as well as discussions on full nuclear disarmament, the arms race in outer space, and security assurances for non-nuclear states.

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