Pakistan has blocked the start of talks on a Fissile Material (Cutoff) Treaty

Pakistan has blocked the start of talks on a Fissile Material (Cutoff) Treaty at the United Nations Conference on Disarmament (CD), in Geneva.

Pakistan's Ambassador at the CD is reported as saying that "We are not in a position to accept the beginning of negotiations on a cut-off treaty in the foreseeable future".

This hard-line position was flagged earlier in January in a statement by Pakistan's National Command Authority, which manages its nuclear complex and nuclear policy, that "As far as the consideration of a Fissile Material Treaty (FMT) at the CD is concerned, Pakistan's position will be determined by its national security interests and the objectives of strategic stability in South Asia."

Pakistan has long insisted on strategic parity with India, including in fissile material stocks. Pakistani officials believe there is a large disparity in fissile material stockpiles between India and Pakistan.

IPFM estimates that the two countries have comparable amounts of weapons material (with Pakistan producing both highly enriched uranium and plutonium, and India producing plutonium, for weapons). The source of the perceived disparity is believed to be India's stockpile of unsafeguarded reactor-grade plutonium.

IPFM estimates that as of mid-2009, India had separated almost 7 tons of unsafeguarded plutonium from the spent fuel of its heavy-water-moderated power reactors. India intends to use this plutonium as start-up fuel for a planned fleet of breeder reactors, but this material could be used directly for weapons. Using this plutonium as fuel, India's unsafeguarded Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (still under construction) could produce up to 150 kg per year of weapon grade plutonium in its blankets. Pakistan is investing heavily in new fissile material production facilities to try to keep up in its nuclear arms race with India. This fissile material arms race could ease if India declared its reactor grade plutonium and breeder program to be civilian and placed them under IAEA safeguards.

Pakistan's position is described in the October 2008 IPFM Report Banning the Production of Fissile Materials for Nuclear Weapons: Country Perspectives on the Challenges to a Fissile Material (Cutoff) Treaty.