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Disarmament Forum to Re-Launch Working Group, Leader Says

By Diane Barnes

Global Security Newswire

The Conference on Disarmament as it opened its 2012 session in Geneva, Switzerland. The 65-nation forum now appears set to revive an informal working group intended to help break years of deadlock, its president announced. The Conference on Disarmament as it opened its 2012 session in Geneva, Switzerland. The 65-nation forum now appears set to revive an informal working group intended to help break years of deadlock, its president announced. (U.N. photo)

A key multilateral disarmament body appears ready to renew an informal working group aimed at breaking a stalemate dating back to the 1990s.

Discussions at the international Conference on Disarmament in Geneva this week revealed "the common will" to have the informal working group "re-established," and to return the wider, consensus-based forum to work "as soon as possible," according to an announcement by Italian Ambassador Venicio Mati.

"A draft decision will be circulated by the end of this week for its adoption next week," the Italian diplomat said in his prepared remarks.

Italy last week assumed the rotating presidency of the 65-nation body, which has been divided for years over a potential treaty to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Pakistan has opposed pursuing the initiative, contending that such an arrangement would undermine its position against nuclear-armed rival India.

Specifics on the forthcoming working-group measure were still unclear. Islamabad opposed an earlier draft based on its reference to a 2009 work plan that included consideration of a possible Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty; that agenda briefly received endorsement from the conference before Pakistan withdrew its support.

In a Tuesday statement to the body, Algeria's government voiced support for any new working-group document to potentially cite language previously adopted by the conference on weapon-usable fissile materials, according to a news release from the U.N. Office at Geneva.

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