Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, July 9th, 2020

Relation between NPT and arms race in South Asia


Relation between NPT and arms race in South Asia

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.

Dr. Rajkumar Singh Professor and Head University Department of Political Science B.N.Mandal University

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