What is the Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty [FMCT]?

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 31, 2022, 8:01

Fissile material refers to components having degenerative potential. These materials undergo fission reactions and produce highly reactive explosive components that play a major role in delivering nuclear weaponry and explosive devices. The worldwide initiative to put a hold on the misuse of nuclear weaponry was taken through the Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty [FMCT].

Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty [FMCT] - Overview

The Acheson-Lilienthal Report discussed atomic energy and its control across the globe, and the Baruch Plan specified a proposal on the fissile material cutoff in the year 1946. This is the first time in world history that opposing opinions have come out regarding fissile material misuse.

President Clinton advocated for a comprehensive agreement that proposed a ban on the fissile materials that contribute to the making of nuclear explosives. This proposal was officially announced in a speech to the United Nations on September 27, 1993.

Finally, the United Nations General Assembly went after President Clinton's recommendation and passed the resolution 48/75L that entailed a "non-discriminatory, multilateral, and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices." This is how the Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty [FMCT] came into force.

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Limitation of Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty [FMCT]

Nuclear weapon states do not seek a treaty that does not address the ban on pre-existing fissionable materials or nuclear weapons and devices that have been declared surplus for defence purposes.

On the contrary, the nuclear-weapon states look for a pact that prohibits only the emergence of new fissile or radioactive material for the development of weapons purposes. Nuclear weapon states do not seek a treaty that does not address the ban on pre-existing fissionable materials or nuclear weapons and devices that have been declared surplus for defence purposes.

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That said, the nuclear-weapon states look for a pact that prohibits only the emergence of new fissile or radioactive material for the development of weapons purposes. China, India, and Pakistan are doubtful about their fissile material stocks to fulfil future defence needs and may seek to increase production. Besides that, in 2004, a verification strategy was introduced in the Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty [FMCT] to make a move forward on the banning of fissile material. Although states like Russia and the United States are not sure about the effectiveness and cost of the verification mechanism.

Pakistan has blocked the Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty [FMCT] as they think this would put them in a disadvantageous position against India as India already has a stronger hoard of nuclear fissile material. Hence, they want the FMCT to put a ban on the existing nuclear fission material as well.

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FAQs on Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty [FMCT]

Q1. What is the Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty [FMCT]?

A Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty [FMCT] is a suggested global contract that would call for restricting the production of the two key ingredients of nuclear weapons and explosive devices worldwide. The two key ingredients are highly-enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium.

Q2. When was the Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty [FMCT] proposed?

The Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty [FMCT] was proposed at the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD) in the year 2006. The United States submitted the FMCT asking for a fifteen-year ban on the production of fissile material that plays a major role in the development of life-threatening nuclear weapons. The fissile material refers to HEU and plutonium, two essential elements of nuclear weapons.

Q3. What does fissile material refer to that is mentioned in the Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty [FMCT]?

The fissile material that is mentioned in the Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty [FMCT] refers to the components capable of undergoing fission reactions. The fission reaction processes have the potential to produce nuclear explosive weapons and other devices. Some examples of fissile material are uranium (U-235 isotope of uranium) and plutonium (Pu-239 isotope of plutonium).

Q4. Is India a corroborator of the Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty [FMCT]?

India is a corroborator as well as a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention. India was among the 65 members of the committee that signed the Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty [FMCT] on January 14, 1993.