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  • Affiliation : Member, International Advisory Board, International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastroph
  • Affiliation : Director, Department for non-proliferation and arms control, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
  • Position : Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation
  • Affiliation : Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation , U. S. Department of State
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Russian Proposal on the Chemical Terrorism Convention at the CD: Four Months Later

30.06.2016

MOSCOW, JUNE 30, 2016. PIR PRESS – "During the last two and a half months our initiative has received further development. I think, the reaction to our proposals is rather good by the Conference on disarmament standards. More than a dozen countries, including very influential ones, have supported us. The vast majority says that the initiative is interesting and there is a feeling that if we ensure consensus, these countries join it with enthusiasm," – said Mikhail Ulyanov, Director of the Department for Nonproliferation and Arms control, the Russian Foreign Ministry.

On March 1, 2016, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov has proposed to develop within the framework of the Conference on Disarmament Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Chemical Terrorism. In the ensuing discussion, at the suggestion of the Italian and Chinese delegations, paragraphs relating to acts of biological terrorism have been added to the draft Convention. Elements of a draft International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Chemical Terrorism and explanatory note on behalf of the Russian Federation are available on the website of the Conference on Disarmament.

According to the Russian initiative, the development of the new Convention had to be followed by the research mandates for all the other issues on the agenda. Therefore, the Russian initiative could not only provide the basis for a new international Treaty, but also, by removing the objections of Pakistan on the FMCT, allow to unblock the work of the Conference.

The Russian proposals were met with interest, according to Mikhail Ulyanov, Director of the Department for Nonproliferation and Arms control at the Russian Foreign Ministry, "During the last two and a half months our initiative has received further development. I think, the reaction to our proposals is rather good by the Conference on disarmament standards. More than a dozen countries, including very influential ones, have supported us. The vast majority says that the initiative is interesting and there is a feeling that if we ensure consensus, these countries join it with enthusiasm”.

At the same time, the USA reacted to Russia's proposal critically, in an interview for the PIR Center’s e-bulletin Yaderny Kontrol (in Russian), Adam Sheinman, Special representative of the President of the United States on nuclear Nonproliferation, noted that "This issue could be solved in the framework of existing agreements and initiatives such as UN Security Council resolution 1540, which is now going through a comprehensive review concerning its implementation. We also continue to focus on negotiations within the CD on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, which is a next realistic step in the multilateral nuclear negotiations, and all countries of the P5 agree with it".            

Several experts have also made objections to the Russian proposals. In an interview with the Yaderny Kontrol (in Russian) Tariq Rauf, programme Director for Arms control and Nonproliferation, SIPRI, said that, in his opinion, "the Conference on Disarmament was not an appropriate forum to develop international instruments on the political violence, even associated with WMD. The Russian Federation could propose the development of Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Chemical Terrorism in the framework of the UN, to enlist the support of the UN Secretary-General and Director-General of the OPCW".

In an interview with the Yaderny Kontrol (in Russian), Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation (India), noted, "Any effort to resume negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament to agree a program of work should be supported. The signing of the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Chemical Terrorism meets the interests of all members of the CD, but it will not be easy to eliminate political obstacles between the great powers and to reach a consensus. In fact, today it is the main challenge for international security. Although the great powers might have substantial differences on specific issues, today, it is the policy of the superpowers over the unrelated problems that hinders the process of creating an effective regime in different areas of global security."

Finally, Maria Sultan, Director of South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (Pakistan), in the interview for Yaderny Kontrol (in Russian), said, "Pakistan supports Russia's initiative that the Conference on Disarmament is the appropriate forum to discuss multilateral treaties and conventions. In addition, the threat of use of chemical weapons by non-state players is very relevant. However, with regard to bioterrorism, we believe that the dominance of the United States in the field of defense technologies, which fundamentally cannot be separated from offensive technologies, is a grey area. Perhaps this issue will require additional work.

The Russian initiative on the Conference on Disarmament appears to be an important proposal that deserves thorough consideration. The question, whether it will be possible to reach consensus on the Russian proposal and to unblock the work of the Conference, remains open. Otherwise, a question will arise about introduction of the draft Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Chemical Terrorism for consideration by the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly. In this context, the PIR Center has prepared two briefs (in Russian) on the history of the development and adoption of two international conventions: the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (negotiated at the UN) and Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (negotiated at the Conference on Disarmament).

For questions, regarding the PIR Center program "Russia and Nuclear Nonproliferation", please contact the Program Director, Andrey Baklitskiy, by phone +7 (495) 987 19 15 or e-mail baklitsky at pircenter.org.

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