The Nonproliferation and Disarmament Initiative's 10 member nations on Saturday pressed the world's nuclear powers and other states to establish and observe a nonbinding halt on manufacturing atomic ingredients for use in weapons (see GSN, June 15).
The foreign ministers for the countries in a collective 23-point statement voiced "deep concern and frustration" over a years-old deadlock at the international Conference on Disarmament, and urged the 65-nation forum to pursue an agenda including a prompt start to discussions on a fissile material cutoff treaty.
"Such a treaty remains an essential step towards a world without nuclear weapons," said the chief envoys for Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. The officials met late last week in Istanbul, Turkey.
The conference, which makes decisions by consensus, completed its initial 2012 session after Pakistan in March again rejected a proposed work plan that would have addressed issues including a potential treaty to prohibit the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons (see GSN, May 17).
The 10-state coalition also endorsed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty's role in the pursuit of arms control and the eventual abolition of atomic weapons.
"We stress the need for continued and systematic reductions in all nuclear weapons categories, including nonstrategic nuclear weapons," the officials said. "We call upon all nuclear-weapon states to intensify efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate all types of nuclear weapons, deployed and nondeployed, in a transparent, verifiable and irreversible manner."
The group urged "all countries that have not yet become parties to the [Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty], in particular to the remaining Annex 2 states whose ratifications are required for the entry into force of the treaty, to sign and ratify it unconditionally and without delay" (see GSN, June 15).
Initiative members acknowledged developments reported by Finnish envoy Jaakko Laajava, the "facilitator" for a planned international conference on establishing a WMD-free Middle East (see GSN, June 5).
"Having had further exchanges in the course of our Istanbul meeting with his representative, we express our full support for the facilitator's efforts and broad consultations to prepare common ground for a successful conference and call upon all stakeholders to engage in the process inclusively and transparently Mindful of the importance of a successful conference, we call for genuine and constructive engagement by, first and foremost, all states of the region as well as the international community," the diplomats stated.
The 10-nation group plans to convene its next meeting in September (Turkish Foreign Ministry release, June 16).