After ending 12 years of deadlock on May 29, the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD) is once again stuck in the mud due to Pakistan’s objections.
The 65-member conference, which operates by consensus, has spent much of 2009 in procedural wrangles after agreeing to a work plan that addressed four main issues, including the negotiation of a verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons (FMCT), in May.
Today, Pakistan blocked the adoption of the 2010 agenda for the CD, suggesting that 2010 may be another slow year for progress.
Adoption of the agenda at the start of the annual session is normally a formality. One veteran official, unable to recall a similar delay in the past, states that, “Even in the darkest days the agenda was adopted, because everything can be discussed under the agenda.”
Pakistan, however, has an interest in delaying the start of substantive talks, since a limit on the production of fissile material could put it at a disadvantage against longer-standing nuclear powers such as India…
In a move that may be aimed directly at its daunting neighbor, Pakistan Ambassador Zamir Akram asked today that the forum consider conventional arms control at the regional and sub-regional level, in line with a United Nations General Assembly resolution sponsored by Pakistan and passed last year. India has rejected a discussion of regional conventional arms control in the past, arguing that the conference should focus on global issues.
Akram also asked that the conference negotiate a global regime on all aspects of missiles. “It is not our intention to create an obstacle,” he said, “but it’s also not our intention to create a situation which is oblivious to what is happening around us.”
The move forced the conference president, Bangladesh ambassador Abdul Hannan, to adjourn the meeting for consultations to find a consensus, which is not likely to come easy. Hannan hopes to resume discussion this Thursday.
It looks like it’s going to be a long year for the CD.