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Objectives for Birmingham ~
Other possible issues
- Strengthen the international financial support for the de-mining of
anti-personnel landmines in the wake of the Ottawa Treaty.
Although only six members of the Group of Eight signed the Ottawa Treaty
banning anti-personnel landmines, the two non-signatories (the United
States and Russia) have signalled their willingness to participate in
the terms of the treaty as much as they are able. In particular, the
United States is spearheading an effort to increase international
funding for mine clearance with its "De-mining 2010 Initiative".
Following the Birmingham Summit, the US plans to host an international
conference on de-mining in Washington (May 20-22) to bring together key
donor governments, international organizations, and regional
organizations representing mine-affected countries. The United States
will seek G8 support for this initiative, perhaps in the form of a
G8-sponsored funding plan. The six signatories of the Ottawa treaty
(Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the UK) will no doubt use
the forum of the G8 to influence the United States and Russia to sign
the treaty at the earliest possible opportunity. Canadian Foreign
Affairs Minister, Lloyd Axworthy, a vocal advocate for the international
treaty, stated it is necessary that both the United States and Russia,
as well as China, officially enter into the treaty because to remain
outside this agreement would stigmatize those countries.
With a majority of nations signing the Ottawa treaty, the concentration
on landmines within the G8 will now turn toward the issues of their
removal and disposal, as well as aid to those injured by these devices.
It is likely these issues will be discussed at Birmingham and a preview
of a variety of international initiatives in these areas will be
unveiled as a prelude to the Washington Conference.
- Reinforce the necessity of the START II Treaty ratification by
Russia and support the beginning of negotiations toward START III.
Although both the United States and Russia have signed the Strategic
Arms Reduction II Treaty, the treaty remains unratified by Russia.
Boris Yeltsin has waged a long-term battle with the mainly communist
Duma in his efforts to achieve ratification, but has so far remained
unsuccessful. Controversy in Russia over the START II Treaty stems from
Russian concerns that the United States is developing weapons that could
violate the 1972 ABM Treaty, as well as fears that the cost of
implementing START II will be more than Russia can bear.
The United States has increased the pressure on Yeltsin to use all of
his leverage with the Duma, as they have strongly hinted the
ratification of START II is a necessary precondition before plans can
be made for the next bilateral Summit between the US and Russia. Signals
emanating from the Duma with regards to START II ratification have been
favourable in the past few months. Parliamentarians such as Vladimir
Lukin (head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia's lower house of
parliament), have stated that START II "can and must" be ratified before
the end of the current parliamentary session in June. Lukin has also
noted that "more and more deputies, including ones from the leftist
opposition, are starting to understand that ratification of this
document is in Russia's interests."
START II slashes both American and Russian deployed nuclear warheads by
up to two-thirds, taking the stockpile from approximately 6,000 each to
no more than 3,500 each by the year 2007. Yeltsin and Clinton agreed at
their last bilateral summit in Helsinki to open negotiations on START
III as soon as START II entered into force.
- Develop support for an international treaty to limit small arms.
Due to the success of the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines, many of the
signatories have begun to consider negotiations toward an international
treaty banning small arms. "In the technology of warfare, indiscriminate
weapons should be more discriminate," noted Canadian Foreign Affairs
Minister Lloyd Axworthy in a recent address to Harvard students.
Axworthy, the major proponent of the landmine treaty, believes the
necessary international support for a similar treaty on small arms would
produce beneficial results.
Another possible topic for discussion at the Birmingham Summit in the
area of arms control is the Canadian proposal to recycle weapons grade
plutonium (referred to as mixed oxide or "MOX fuel") from dismantled
Soviet missiles. The Canadians intend to use this plutonium as fuel for
CANDU nuclear reactors. The proposal shows obvious benefits as Canadian
studies have confirmed that MOX plutonium yields a higher amount of
energy than the uranium that is now used in most nuclear reactors. The
proposal is also seen as beneficial since it finds a use for discarded
nuclear materials. Yet in the face of these obvious advantages, the
proposal for burning MOX fuel remains controversial. Leading proponents
of the plan, including the Canadian International Development Agency
(CIDA), state it contributes to non-proliferation in the post-Cold War
era, yet many academics, as well as the United States department of
energy, see the MOX fuel proposal as having the opposite effect in the
long-run. According to these critics, the more widespread the usage of
MOX fuel in nuclear reactors, the easier it is for rogue states to
obtain the materials to construct nuclear weapons. It is likely that
the G8 leaders will pursue this very important issue in their
discussions in Birmingham, yet it is unlikely that there will be any
consensus on the nature of the proposal until after the scheduled test
burns are conducted later this year.
Document prepared by: Gina Stephens
~ Objectives by Issue (Evaluative Criteria): 1998 Birmingham Summit ~
22 April 1998
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