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Pakistan Denies Any Fault For Fissile-Material Talks Logjam

Pakistan on Monday insisted to the United Nations it was not to blame for a longstanding impasse over efforts to negotiate a treaty that would end the production of all nuclear weapon-grade material, even though the country once again this year unilaterally blocked progress on the issue, according to an Associated Press of Pakistan report.

For the 16th year in a row, the international Conference on Disarmament was unable to achieve a unanimous vote on a work program for negotiating new nonproliferation treaties after Islamabad objected to the inclusion of study on a potential fissile material cutoff treaty. The 65-member body operates on consensus.

"The CD is not a body to negotiate only one item on its agenda: FMCT (Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty)," Pakistani Ambassador Zamir Akram said in remarks before the U.N. General Assembly’s First Committee, which focuses on disarmament issues.

"If there is no consensus on negotiating FMCT, there is also no consensus on negotiating nuclear disarmament, negative security assurances or PAROS (prevention of an outer space arms race)," said Akram, naming the other nonproliferation issues the conference has called for studying in recent years.

Islamabad objects to an FMCT accord on the grounds it would put it at a strategic disadvantage to longtime rival India, which is thought to possess a larger stockpile of fissile material. Akram said any such treaty should be premised on the understanding that all nations are entitled to equal defenses. If this recognition is provided, he suggested his government might discuss a fissile material pact.

Akram called for the conference to pursue a work program that would focus on providing guarantees to non-nuclear weapon nations that they would not be targeted by countries with such arsenals. Pakistan's permanent envoy to the U.N. offices in Geneva also called for a treaty that would cover missile defenses, which he argued endanger strategic stability.

He also voiced support for enhancing international rules aimed at barring weapons in outer space.

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