The NPT entered into force on 5th March 1970 with the best hope: (i) That the nuclear weapon states not assist others to acquire weapons; (ii) That the non-nuclear weapon states agree not to acquire them, and (iii) That facilities in the latter states capable of producing fissionable materials that might be used in weapons be subject to surveillance by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to assure that they were not being used. At the same time, the treaty establishes a framework within which nations can cooperate to obtain the benefits of the peaceful atom under strict controls to prevent its misuse for nuclear explosive purposes. The treaty contained several A r t i c l e s that c o m p r i s e es s e n t i a l n o n - proliferation-undertakings. Article 1, places the nuclear weapon state under the obligation not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive devices or control over them, and not in any way to assist, encourage or induce any non-nuclear weapon state to manufacture or acquire such weapon or devices. Article 2 pledges the non-nuclear weapon states not to receive nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices as well as not manufacture them or receive assistance in their manufacture.
Discrepancies of NPT
The first part of the Article has not as yet given rise to formal complaints. But the second part of Article 1 has led to controversy. Nuclear material and technology destined for power programmes have been exported by Non-Proliferation Treaty parties to non-parties. There have been certain forms of nuclear cooperation which has led to the development of nuclear weapon capability in several countries. F o r i n s t a n c e , t h e w i l l i n g n e s s o f C h i n a t o s e l l n u c l e a r commodities without strict control to Pakistan has contributed to its nuclear weapons capability. According to Article 2 of the non-proliferation treaty, every non-nuclear weapon party to the treaty have to conclude a safeguard agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency whether or not it is actually engaged in nuclear activities.
On the provisions of NPT the United States is of the opinion that developing countries have the right to pursue the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. If a country chooses; as a party to the NPT, it is entitled to do so under safeguards. The NPT explicitly recognises signatories, “inalienable right” to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. That this inalienable right includes the right to enrich is clear from the NPT itself, its negotiating history and decades of state practice, with at least a dozen non-weapons state parties having developed safeguarded fuel cycle infrastructures potentially able to support weapons programme.. In fact, it has helped countries to benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear energy like meeting their needs in power, medicine, health-care, science, industry and agriculture. The NPT calls upon all states particularly the nuclear weapons states, to pursue good faith negotiations to end the nuclear arms race.
American views on NPT
Unfortunately, the NPT is against nuclear have nots acquiring nuclear weapons. But it is silent about nuclear haves increasing the size of their arsenals. The NPT whose ostensible objective is world peace, seems to advocate a strange logic. Vertical proliferation helps peace while horizontal proliferation endangers it. The protagonists of the NPT argue that nuclear powers, due to their long experience in handling nuclear weapons, are “mature and” responsible while the “threshold” powers who lack this experience may be trigger-happy and irresponsible, precipitating a nuclear holocaust. The nuclear powers, in fact, have violated the letter and spirit of the NPT. They have during the last decades increased their nuclear strength many folds. Their record in helping the transfer of nuclear technology is very poor. As long as the US and other nuclear weapon powers continue to rely on them for their security into the indefinite future, the rest of the countries will come under severe domestic pressure to acquire nuclear weapons to improve their political leverage. The restraint they have accepted under the NPT cannot be expected to last forever, especially when the weapon states have not kept their part of the bargain to denuclearise themselves over a period of time. However, the nuclear weapon states had a lot of expectation from the NPT which would help immensely in halting the arms race.
Indian views and dilemmas
The Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 was not signed by India as Indira Gandhi thought that it would be a major hurdle for the peaceful experiments. Jawaharlal Nehru’s commitment to work and support nuclear disarmament and nuclear arms control was unequivocal. There was a coherence in the policy which he maintained that India would never make nuclear weapons; that it would work for the abolition of nuclear weapons; and that since it was difficult to achieve that objective, it would support measures that might inhibit or control the race for nuclear arms. In Nehru’s nuclear policy there was no discrepancy in the principles and precepts. But after Nehru, the situations and circumstances have greatly changed. Accordingly, although his policies are still upheld in principle, there are changes in actual practice. As a result, when the question of implementing Nehru’s policies in regard to nuclear arms control comes up, the changes in approach of the successive Government become apparent. These are changes forced upon the decision-makers by the changed environment. The situation deteriorated sharply with the Chinese detonation of their atomic device in October 1964. Reacting on the development Lal Bahadur Shastri, the then Prime Minister of India, held that ‘it was natural that ….. people in India should think of having a similar bomb. They wanted to retaliate. It was human nature. The incident not only changed the security environment but public opinion in the country was demanding change in India’s nuclear policy. The Chinese nuclear test strengthened India’s pro-disarmament commitment and made its political leaders for more conscious of the increasing disparities between nuclear haves and have nots. India raised the issue at the UN. Participating in the initial d e b a t e s i n t h e U N G e n e r a l A s s e m b l y o n n u c l e a r N o n - Proliferation Treaty in November 1965, India’s representative stressed the need to establish ‘an acceptable balance of mutual responsibilities and obligations of the nuclear and non-nuclear powers. Thus, India’s policy towards nuclear arms control was changed. Endorsement of Nehru’s step-by-step approach was given up but only to a limited extent.