Once again the fissile material management issue has come to light. After hibernating for about 12 years, the Conference on Disarmament (CD) has become active on this subject. Indeed, the intent is noble but the requisite mechanics are not readily available. The fissile material management is a tricky issue, much more than managing the number of warheads and missiles. There are a number of loopholes which could be exploited for circumventing any treaty on the subject. The US-India nuclear deal, known as Agreement 123, has broadened the scope of such inadequacies. As a result of this agreement and its follow up arrangements, India has been able to 'liberate eight of its reactors from safeguards. These reactors produce sufficient fissile material to fabricate about 280 warheads annually. The Shannon mandate of 1995 laid down a good foundation for disarmament in general and non-proliferation in particular. However, the imprudent conclusion of Agreement 123 has necessitated for Pakistan to seek a regime for fissile material management beyond the Shannon mandate in order to address its legitimate concerns regarding fissile material proliferation. Moreover, reduction of the existing stockpiles of fissile material and impeccable verification mechanism emerge as cornerstones of a viable Fissile Material Treaty (FMT). Any arrangement based only on an arbitrary cut-off timeframe is not likely to yield results. The recent discovery of unaccounted for consignment of, hopefully depleted, uranium from a commercial market in India speaks of the kind of hazards which need to be taken care of, while vying for a global level management of fissile material. Devising a reliable verification method is another elusive goal, haunting all well wishers of non-proliferation. The dual application of fissile materials like in the field of naval propulsion would continue to provide channels and opportunities for diversion. So far, fissile material managers have focused on select isotopes of uranium and plutonium, whereas elements like americium and neptunium also need to be brought under the umbrella. Undoubtedly, the verification of production and consumption of fissile material is a task easier said than done. Some of the countries attained the requisite enrichment right under the nose of IAEA inspectors. Historically, horizontal proliferation has always flourished through dubious means. And vertical proliferation has always been a well guarded state secret. Therefore to enforce a sustainable fissile material management regime, the requisite will and means must exist to penetrate these traditional protective screens to implement a verifiable regime. A viable course of action would be a drastic reduction in military applications of fissile material and discouraging the development of systems associated with such military applications. Once the demand is reduced, the production would fall. The imposition of a cut-off schedule without addressing the demand would only breed and strengthen a class of blackmarketers. The third Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START III) needs to be negotiated on a fast-track and implemented in letter and in spirit. Substantial reduction in the warheads of the US and Russia, which account for about 95 percent of global inventory, with go a long way in curtailing the demand of fissile material. From the balance of power perspective, a nuclear doctrine can neither be evolved in a vacuum nor can it be sustained devoid of other related and associated factors. Especially in the regional and sub-regional context, conventional and nuclear doctrines get intricately enmeshed. Hence, nuclear disarmament sans conventional disarmament is likely to create more problems than it could sort out. Guaranteed availability of fissile material for peaceful applications in the civilian domains is another area that needs to be catered for. Once this issue is settled and materials for applications like power generation and health care are readily available, states would have no pretext to venture into dubious processes of enrichment. Missile non-proliferation is a regime that could, as a corollary, strengthen the fissile material proliferation drive, because any missile could be nuclear tipped. Hence, universal application of a realistic Missile Control Regime should precede the enactment of a fissile material management domain. It is a well founded doctrinal inference that missile defence shields weaken the deterrence. The symbolic abandoning of missile defence plan for the Czech Republic and Poland by the United States is a welcome step. However, much more is required for establishing the credibility. The bogey of Iranian missile threat does not justify the development and sustenance of a huge missile shied infrastructure. Likewise, India and Israel also need to wind up their missile defence related projects. Despite its righteous appearance, the current American standpoint regarding a quick conclusion of an FMCT entails fatal contradictions. An envisaged approach is flawed as it continues to aim at perpetuating the nuclear haves and have-nots clubs by ignoring the implications of holdings of fissile material by the states, which have already mastered the enrichment processes. Hence, despite best intentions nuclear apartheid may stand perpetuated at the end of the day. At special disadvantage would be late entrants to the club of fissile material producers. For example, Pakistan would be at a perpetual disadvantage with regard to India. Going by the cut-off scheme, Pakistan may not be able to sustain its nuclear doctrine of minimum credible deterrence. To demonstrate sincerity of purpose, it would be appropriate that all states agree to a verifiable framework of abandoning work on futuristic development plans involving military applications of fissile material. Americas emphasis on early adoption of the controversial FMCT, in isolation, is quite unfortunate. This amounts to treating the symptoms while ignoring the root causes. In this backdrop, Pakistan has raised its genuine concerns at the existing stocks of fissile material. Nuclear warheads and, as a corollary, stocking requirement of fissile material is prompted by the threat perception of a nation. Hence, as a prerequisite, there is a need to find fair and just solutions to potential hot spots, and then proceed for non-proliferation. There is also a necessity to take into account regional imbalances in the domains of conventional weapons, ballistic missile threat and militarisation of outer space. Moreover, as a result of an FMCT, countries devoid of nuclear capability would not be able to pursue nuclearisation; therefore, they have a legitimate right to have irrevocable assurances against the usage or threat of the use of nuclear weapons. Considerable work has already been done by various forums for a universal non-discriminatory multilateral treaty. Keeping in view the intricacies linking conventional and nuclear capabilities, especially in regional settings, there is a need to take a wholesome approach by integrating work on related areas like UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons. Concrete steps should also be taken to curb numerical and technological escalations in conventional and nuclear capabilities. Fissile material management is a complex task, its easier said than done. It needs a comprehensive solution encompassing regional and sub-regional dynamics. Once the cause and effect linkages are established correctly, the objectives would be achievable as well as sustainable. The framework of the new regime should essentially be non-discriminatory, based on universal access to peaceful applications of nuclear technology in fields like health care and power generation, etc. Owing to the prevalent world order, America is, certainly, in a unique position to underwrite a viable fissile management regime. However, it must neither arm twist other states to give up their principled stance, nor rush for a half-baked, porous solution. The writer is a former assistant of the chief of air staff, PAF Email: khalid3408@gmail.com