Jeffrey LewisFissile Material Cut-Off Treaty

The United States has suddenly announced that we support (again) the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty, which would prohibit the production of fissile materal for nuclear weapons.

And I mean suddenly. The Bush Administration had been reviewing its support for the FMCT, obstructing negotiations in the CD. And then (according to AP) …

“Without explanation, the administration suddenly decided to put forward its proposal to start negotiations on the treaty. Diplomats from other delegations said they understood that Sanders/’ speech was written overnight and that the session of the conference was delayed about half an hour because of finishing touches to the text.

Unusually, the U.S. mission to international organizations in Geneva refused to release a copy of the speech.

AP implied it was a response to Kerry/’s June speech that called for preventing “the creation of new materials that are being produced for nuclear weapons.”

Daryl Kimball noted that Sanders expressed “serious concerns” about verification, and concluded the move was “a clever attempt to feign support for negotiations while undermining the chances of success because of the lack of support for verification.” ACA put out a statement.

Two things that no one seems to mention: First, supporting the FMCT means pressuring Israel. Do you think Bush will squeeze Sharon/’s beytzah between now and November?

Second, the CD is done for the year on September 10 and won/’t start up until January (after the election). This is cost-free for the Bush Administration, since they don/’t have to make good on it until after the election. Some of the obstructionist states pulled the same move in August 1998, when they agreed to a workplan but then ran out the clock.