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Bern, Press release, 04.06.2009

The 65 members of the Geneva Disarmament Conference (CD) today adopted a programme of work by consensus. Switzerland welcomes this development, which is important for Geneva's role as a venue for international disarmament negotiations.

The CD, the only multilateral body for disarmament negotiations, had been blocked since 1998 because the different priorities and geopolitical interests of the members made it impossible to reach an agreement on a programme of work. The document now adopted is an ambitious but balanced compromise.

The breakthrough came under the presidency of Algeria following an improvement in the overall situation for multilateral disarmament negotiations since the new US administration took office.

In a speech to the CD on 19 May, Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey  praised the constructive atmosphere in the field of disarmament since the beginning of the year and encouraged the CD members to adopt a comprehensive but balanced programme of work as soon as possible.

The key feature for Switzerland is the mandate in the programme of work for the start of negotiations on a verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT). However the planned discussions on nuclear disarmament, negative security guarantees for non-nuclear-weapon States and the prevention of a space arms race are also central elements for the acceptance of the programme.

Switzerland is particularly pleased that the adoption of the programme of work by the CD coincides with the start of negotiations between Russia and the US on a new nuclear disarmament treaty to replace START I, which expires in December 2009. These developments underline Geneva's role as the traditional venue for disarmament negotiations. 

For further information please contact : 
Ambassador Jürg Streuli, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva
Tel. 022 749 24 31

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