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Hiroshima for Global Peace

(8) FMCT

A) Efforts toward commencing negotiations on an FMCT

In the “Decision 2: Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament” adopted at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, participating countries agreed on the immediate commencement and early conclusion of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) at the CD. However, substantive negotiations have not yet commenced. The 2020 session of the CD again ended without adopting a program of work that included the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on an FMCT negotiation, due to Pakistan’s strong objection, as was the case in previous years. Pakistan has insisted that not just newly produced material but also existing stockpiles of such materials should be subject to the scope of negotiations on a treaty. China has expressed support for the commencement of negotiations on an FMCT prohibiting the future production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, but has done so less actively than the other NWS. Israel has a similar posture.

The 2020 UNGA decided to include in the provisional agenda of its 76th session in 2021, under the item entitled “General and complete disarmament”, the sub-item entitled “Treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” The decision was adopted with 184 countries voting in favor, one against (Pakistan) and four abstentions (Iran, Israel, North Korea and Syria).

B) Moratoria on production of fissile material for nuclear weapons

NNWS, in particular the NPDI member countries, have called on the nuclear-armed states to declare and implement a moratorium on the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons until an FMCT is concluded.207 However, China, India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea have not declared a moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Among them, at least India, Pakistan and North Korea are seen as highly likely to continue producing fissile material for nuclear weapons.

It is considered that China does not currently produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.208 However, Beijing has been negative about declaring a moratorium on production. China’s ambassador to the CD argued, “A moratorium on production is not the fundamental path to completely and effectively resolving the FMCT issue. Especially in this day and age, what some countries affirm today they may deny tomorrow, and a current administration can arbitrarily repudiate all the policies and commitments made by a previous one, leaving the international community at an even greater loss as to what course to take.”209 Meanwhile, one press report in November 2020 that has not been confirmed claimed that China has expanded its plutonium and uranium plants as part of a secretive, crash program to add nuclear warheads.210

As for the United States, the Department of Energy announced its plan to resume production of highly enriched uranium (HEU) for naval reactors in 2050,211 clarifying that this uranium is not intended for nuclear weapons, and therefore does not violate the commitment.

None of the nuclear-armed states have declared the amount of fissile material for nuclear weapons which they possess (except for the U.S. declassifying the amount of its past production of HEU and plutonium). Estimates by research institutes are summarized in Chapter 3 of this Report.

207 NPT/CONF.2020/PC.III/WP45, April 29, 2019.
208 See, for instance, Hui Zhang, “China’s Fissile Material Production and Stockpile,” Research Report, International Panel on Fissile Materials, No. 17 (2017); Hui Zhang, “Why China Stopped Making Fissile Material for Nukes,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, March 15, 2018,
209 “No Clear Path forward for Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty,” IPFM Blog, May 24, 2020,
210 Bill Gertz, “China’s ‘Secretive, Crash’ Nuclear Buildup Revealed,” Washington Times, November 12, 2020,
211 U.S. Department of Energy, “Secretary Brouillette Announces the Nuclear Fuel Working Group’s Strategy to Restore American Nuclear Energy Leadership,” April 23, 2020,

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