On the CTBT

After the first week of negotiations which resumed on 22 January, the head of the special CTBT negotiating committee, Ludwik Dembinski, a Polish UN ambassador, said: There is a political will to conclude the treaty in the coming six months". The CTBT negotiations are on top of the agenda of the 10-week current session of the Geneva-based 38-nations UN Conference on Disarmament.

A major difficulty at the negotiating table is the demand of lndia and 20 other non-aligned countries to link a test ban with talks on wider nuclear disarmament. lndia is arguing in particular that the negotiations should be considered a disarmament issue. Subsequently, the 21-countries coalition has called for immediately setting up in parallel, i.e. under the conference, a special ad-hoc commitee on a nuclear disarmament treaty to ban all nuclear weapons within a cleary fixed time-table. In addition, also test simulations and "sub-critical" tests should be banned. Among the non-aligned countries, there is also concem about the new quality of nuclear weapons. Pakistani Ambassador Munir Akram said in a speech in Geneva, he felt most disturbed 'that most of the nuclear weapon states seem to be unprepared to consider the measures required to lead to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. (...) Some of them, while reducing their nuclear arsensals quantitatively, are upgrading them qualitatively.

In turn, lndia was accused by several Western countries of blocking progress on CTBT. In particular the USA refused to link the test ban and the disarmament issue. The US would not agree to talks on eliminating nuclear weapons before the CTBT was agreed upon. But those talks should be a matter of the five nuclear powers and not to be dealt with by the Geneva Conference, anyway, according ambassador Stephen Ledogar.

Urging, too, the nuclear powers for "a stronger commitment to nuclear disarmament", Egypt, which belongs to the 21-nonaligned countries coalition mentioned, would sign a CTBT which does not include a disarmament time-table. Govemmental sources underlined Egypt's opposition to all nuclear tests, including miniaturized laboratory tests or "special circumstances". This is refening to the US position which reportedly seeks for a loophole to allow tests to these points. In addition, only the USA have announced so-called "sub-critical" to be started on 18 June this year.

Two other problems - the future scope of the treaty and when it would enter inio force - were singled out by Dembinski. With regard to the very draft of the treaty. 1,200 text details have yet to be revised.

In the course of the talks, lndian ambassador Arundhati Ghose told the Conference, critics of lndia were using trick-mirrors in which "Those who want to eliminate nuclear weapons are beeing seen as threat to disarmament." India's signing of the CTBT would depend on the commitment of the five nuclear wepaons states to total, disarmament of their nuclear arsenals within a binding time-frame. This commitment should be binding under intemational law and should be inserted into the preamble of the CTBT.

In a letter to lndian Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao dated 13 February the Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs supported the US stand at the Geneva talks. The 1995 Nobel Peace Prize winner urged lndia to reconsider its stand on nuclear testing, saying: "lt fills us with dismay.

The question of the treaty's entering into force will be dealt with by a Working Group on Legal and lnstitutional lssues headed by Dutch Ambassador Jaap Ramaker. According to Ramaker, usually treaties come into force and become legaily binding when a set number of countries signed and ratified them (as it has been agreed upon with regard to, for example, the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention. But this Convention has not yet come into force since only 47 signature states out of a minimum of 65 needed have ratified it so far). Ramaker, however, admitted, that as far as the CTBT is concerned, other factors including the attitude of nuclear powers might be taken into account.

China is the only country out of 186 UN Member States which did not agree to last years UN General Assemly resolution to sign the treaty in 1996. After the French decision to halt nuclear testing, China came under increasing pressure at the CTBT conference to follow this example. China is believed to have plans to conduct at least two tests in 1996, as last year, probably at its Lop Nor test site in the westem region of Xinjiang. But at the same in Beijing, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman that "China supports the negotiations to reach a CTBT in 1996 and wouid abide by its terms once the ban takes effect". However, China, along with Russia, are so far the only two of the declared five nuclear powers which did not publicy endorse the "zero yield" option (prohibition of all nuclear weapons' testing or of any release of nuclear energy), Westem sources are liking to point out.

As to verification matters there seems to be consensus on the principle of on-site inspections.

This year's winter session of the two-year-old negotiations ends on 29 March making the overall time-table quite restricted. US President Clinton had urged a "draft pact" to be submitted in June to this year's 51st UN General Assembly. Thus, the treaty should be open for signature in September. Outgoing Conference chairman U Aye of Burma said he had been unable to resolve the stand-off in back-stage discussions, but diplomats said contacts would continue in an effort to find a solution in the coming weeks.

News on the Fissile Talks

Also at the Geneva Conference on Disarmament, a global ban on the production of fissile material is to be negotiated. in March 1995, the Conference established a committee with the mandate to negotiate a "cut-off' in fissile material production, i.e. plutonium and highly-enriched uranium (HEU). But the work is apparently deadlocked. So far, the committee did even not succeed in electing a chairperson. Now, against the background of the position of the 21 non-aligned countries to urge for nuclear disarmament talks, Western countries are trying to put the blame on lndia and Pakistan seen as being eager to continue their production of fissile material. US ambassador Ledogar made the point by assuming that the deadlock was created because "some states" are linking both the CTBT and the fissile talks to reach nuclear disarmament negotiations.

Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START)


On 26 January, the US Senate approved START-2 which had been signed in Moscow in January 1993. The Treaty requires the USA and Russia to reduce their strategic arsenals to between 3,000 and 3,500 nuclear weapons each by 2003. This cuts the number of Russian and US nuclear warheads on long-range missiles and bombers to about one-third the number deployed in 1990. It bans all land-based multiple-warhead missiles and limits warheads deployed on submarines. Unlike START-1, which limited both sides to 6,000 warheads deployed on 1,600 delivery vehicles, the new pact would count all warheads deployed on heavy bombers. To date, the number of warheads affected by START-2 is 7,000 for Russia and 9,000 for the USA.

The overwhelming 87-4 voting - the Treaty provides forˇapproval by a two-thirds majority - was only opposed by the Republican Senators John Ashcroft, Jesse Helms, James Inhofe, and Bob Smith. Now it is up to the Russian Federation to ratify the Treaty, as well. But there is some concem that the ratification by Russian legislation could be caught up in the Russian elections. Russia should ratify START-2 by mid- April. Without ratification the US will not be legally bound by the Treaty, according to US - Senate Majority leader Bob Dole. Also, ratification could be more difficult if it is not done before Boris Yeltsin's term expires in June. Reportedly, influential Russian parliamentarians are linking the ratification of START-2 and NATOs intention to expand to Eastem Europe. They were quoting as arguing that NATO expansion means "changing the strategical environment" in so far as, in the longer run, a stationing of NATO nuclear weapons is considered possible on the territories of erstwhile Warsaw pact states on the boarders to Russia. Hence, Russia has to revise its nuclear strategy. According to members of the Duma, all decisions regarding START-2 should be postponed until elections are over. The Vice-President of Parliament, Sergei Babourin, was quoted as saying that without considerable changes, the Treaty would not correspond to today's national interests of Russia. General Nikolai Besborodov, a vice-chair of Duma's Defence Committee, demanded a new analysis of the Treaty with particular regard to the geo-political situation of Russia and its economic capabilities.


A possibie START-3 negotiating should, at least, concentrate on the following: - further reduction to 1,000 wameads each for the USA and Russia would be a solid basis for the inclusion of the smaller weapon states; negotiated limits on the remaining tactical nuclear weapons should be envisioned; the smaller nuclear powers should join negotiations

Nuclear politics