'Statement by Dr Pankaj Sharma, Joint Secretary (D&ISA) at the opening session of the High-level Expert Preparatory Group on FMCT in Geneva on July 31, 2017

Madam Chair,

It has been my great honour and pleasure to work with you in your various capacities, and particularly now as Chair of this Group. I join my other colleagues in expressing our deep appreciation for Canada’s role and efforts related to FMCT. I wish to acknowledge the distinguished members on the dais as well as thank the interpreters who make a crucial contribution to our meeting. I am accompanied by three distinguished colleagues, Ambassador Amandeep Gill who is well known and has served in the previous GGE, Mr Umesh Dani from the Department of Atomic Energy and Ms Rachita Bhandari from the Permanent Mission of India to the Conference on Disarmament.

Without prejudice to the priority attached to nuclear disarmament, India supports international efforts aimed at early commencement of negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices in the Conference on Disarmament, in accordance with the mandate explicitly reflected in resolution 48/75 L, and later reconfirmed in the Shannon report (CD/1299), 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. The agreed mandate set out in CD/1299 continues to be valid and relevant and should remain unchanged.

The Conference as the world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating body is the appropriate forum for negotiating such a treaty. The Conference as the agreed forum for treaty negotiations was one of the key elements of the consensus contained in CD/1299. The work on the treaty in the Conference and its subsidiary body should be conducted in accordance with the rules of procedure of the Conference and on the basis of strict adherence to the rule of consensus.

A fissile material treaty must be a treaty for banning the future production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. It certainly, in our view, is not an arms control treaty. However, if implemented in good faith through universal participation and adherence, it will make a significant contribution to nuclear non-proliferation in all its aspects. It would be a step towards nuclear disarmament but would not in itself be a disarmament measure. It is important to safeguard existing conceptual clarity as we move forward.

The obligations and responsibilities arising from the treaty must apply in a non-discriminatory manner in particular, to all States parties directly affected by the treaty’s obligations and responsibilities. The treaty would be global in character, thus excluding any regional specificity. It should include all States which are essential stakeholders for the treaty and thus critical for its universal adherence. The dynamic correlation between scope, definitions and verification will be an important factor in the treaty, also taking into account the costs of implementing the treaty. The mechanism for verifying the obligations enshrined in the treaty will be decided in the treaty negotiations and cannot be prejudged or agreed in advance. The treaty should not place an undue burden on military non-proscribed activities.

The establishment of the High-level Expert Preparatory Group under the UNGA resolution 71/259 of 2016 should not replace the CD as the forum for the negotiations of an FMCT. Therefore, the work of this Group in our view amounts to neither pre-negotiations nor negotiations of an FMCT, which should take place in the CD on the basis of the agreed mandate. There is necessity of participation of all stakeholders in FMCT negotiations, which can be ensured in the CD. According to our understanding, this Group will conduct its work in accordance with the established practices of a GGE, including the principle of consensus. India supports the CD as the world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum and hopes that its member states will redouble efforts to enable the Conference to commence substantive work at an early date.

Madam Chair, you had made a reference in your remarks today morning to the ‘coat hanger’ analogy referring to the dynamic interplay among scope, definitions, verification and legal and institutional arrangements, which is well taken but implies a certain rigidity. Instead, we would prefer the analogy of the three dials, which implies flexibility and which was discussed at the last GGE. Lastly, Madam Chair, we appreciate the vision that you have laid down for a ‘coat’ i.e. an FMCT, we would only add that the ‘tailor shop’ where we can stitch it i.e. the CD is not far from us.

Thank you.

Permanent Mission of India to the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva