- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 27, 2007

John Zarocostas spoke yesterday to Jozef Goldblat, vice president of the Geneva International Peace Research Institute (GIPRI), on the latest crisis in the conference on disarmament.

Question: Is there still hope of salvaging talks on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty this year?

Answer: The whole body seems to be a laughingstock. For 11 years, they have been talking about talking. … I know very well from my 40 years experience that it’s impossible for this body to negotiate several items at the same time. … I think there is a need of revamping the whole [negotiating] machinery.

Q: For many years the U.S. was reluctant to go forward on an FMCT because they argued it could not be internationally verifiable. Now the draft text has fudged that issue, but the Chinese seem to be trying to restore the linkage.

A: We know that even if they start discussing negotiations of a treaty on cessation of fissile material for weapon purposes, it would be impossible to have a treaty without controls. … One could take this piece of paper and start discussing it and perhaps later they could be persuaded to include verification measures because, without that, an arms-control treaty has no value.

Q: Why has China come forward with this set of demands when other major nuclear powers have placed a moratorium on fissile materials?

A: Moratorium means you stop doing something, but you may begin doing that something again at a moment you choose yourself. … The Chinese promised to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, but nothing happened until now. The same thing in the United States, nothing is being done.

Q: Some defense analysts think the Chinese want to continue building up their nuclear weapons capabilities?

A: This is certainly true. They want to modernize their nuclear arsenal. … It may also be their way of putting pressure on other countries in the conference. The fact is, they are refusing something that they should not have refused.

Q: Is there any chance the rotating conference presidency, which moves to Sweden, can secure some last-minute language to get China on board?

A: I’m sure the Swedes, who have been very active for years, will certainly try to do something. — But whether they succeed, or not, I have my doubts.

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