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U.N. Chief is Advised to Pursue Dual-Track Approach to Secure FMCT

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was advised on Thursday to implement a dual-track approach aimed at opening negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty, according to a U.N. General Assembly press release. Such a tack would have nations simultaneously working to achieve international consensus on the importance of the accord, while also studying scientific options that could provide technical support to any future pact.

The chairman of Ban's special advisory panel on disarmament affairs, H.M.G.S. Palihakkara, told the General Assembly's First Committee that the panel had extensively studied whether to do away with the principal of consensus, which guides decision-making within the international Conference on Disarmament. The 65-member nation body  successfully negotiated such nonproliferation accords as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, but the organization for the past 16 years has been unable to achieve unanimity in agreeing to a new work program.

Palihakkara said it was the opinion of the secretary-general's advisory board that doing away with consensus would not fix problems at the conference, which he said were the result of political disagreements, not bureaucratic failings.

The advisory board "recommended that the secretary-general continue his efforts to achieve a breakthrough in the stalemate and consider initiating a process of consultation to build consensus to commence substantive work on negotiations in respect of a fissile material cutoff treaty," the press release stated.

In addition, Ban should study the merits of prodding member nations to organize their own committees of researchers for the purposes of investigating technical matters that would surround any formal international effort to implement and enforce a ban on the generation of new warhead-grade nuclear material, according to the board's recommendation.

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