Complete Cutoff: Designing a Comprehensive Fissile Material Treaty

By Arend Meerburg and Frank N. von Hippel

President Barack Obama has pledged to "lead a global effort to negotiate a verifiable treaty ending the production of fissile materials for weapons purposes."[1] Fissile materials are the chain-reacting fissionable materials that are the essential ingredients in nuclear weapons, in practice, highly enriched uranium (HEU) and separated plutonium. Obama is not the first president to back the negotiation of such a treaty: President Bill Clinton did so after the UN General Assembly in 1993 adopted by consensus a resolution calling for negotiation of a "non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices."[2] Even the administration of President George W. Bush tabled a draft treaty at the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament (CD), albeit without international verification.

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