NPT and its failure

Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

  • Objective:
    • to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology,
    • to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and
    • to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.
  • The Treaty represents the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States. entered into force in 1970.
  • A total of 190 parties have joined the Treaty, including the five nuclear-weapon States.
  • Treaty establishes a safeguards system under the responsibility of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
During the Cold War, another myth got generated that the best route to nuclear disarmament lay through nuclear non-proliferation. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons(NPT) took shape during the 1960s and today enjoys widespread adherence. It may have helped prevent proliferation but even its staunch supporters are hard-pressed to show that it has made any impact on nuclear arms reductions. The fact that the five countries acknowledged as nuclear-weapon-states in NPT are the same as the five Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) may have been a coincidence in the 1960s, but today, is a liability that diminishes the NPT.
Ex. Of failures:
The NPT framework cannot accommodate India’s position or tackle China’s flagrant assistance to Pakistan; its review conferences have repeatedly failed in grappling with Israel’s programme; the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea walked out of the treaty. Clearly, the NPT has reached the limits of its success and even exhausted its normative potential.
Today’s nuclear world is very different from the bipolar world of the Cold War dominated by the superpower nuclear rivalry. The centre of gravity has shifted from the Euro-Atlantic to the Asia-Pacific region and this is a more crowded geopolitical space without any overarching binary equation. Different players have widely disparate nuclear arsenals and different doctrinal approaches. Even as the number of variables and the number of equations have grown, there is an absence of a security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region.
Once every five years at the United Nations a conference is held to review compliance with the 1970 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and to advance nuclear disarmament. Just like previous attempts, the 2015 conference also failed to advance its objective. Critically examine why. (200 Words)
Recognizing the threat from nuclear arms to society, Nuclear capability possessing countries negotiated Nuclear non-proliferation treaty (1970) for pursuing the goal of nuclear disarmament. Initially it made huge gains with its membership increasing to 186 countries with only India, Pakistan and south Sudan are non-members but its gains in recent past seems plateauing due to below mentioned reasons:
1. Initially it was easy for US to dictate terms to other nuclear powers but with the shifting balance of power to China and its non-seriousness to the cause (Which reflect in its relationship with Pakistan and North Korea) does not augur well for the quest of nuclear disarmament. Any decision in NPT needs to be arrived with consensus of all parties but such a situation seems eluding. 
2. Instability in Middle East and reticence of Israel to give away its ambitions for nuclear power can prove a poke in wheel towards this path. Disagreement between Israel and Egypt to arrive at regional disarmament agreement could fuel arms race in this region. Similar is the case with rivalry between India and Pakistan.
3. Deteriorating relations between West and Russia and lack of trust between these countries further complicates problems.
4. Diminishing authority of UN to prevent unilateral attacks by powerful countries like Russia, US and Saudi Arabia will not help in winning the confidence of weak states and they may pursue for nuclear deterrence.
There is need to re-look discriminatory provisions of NPT in this multi polar world where only a select few could possess nuclear weapon and rest of them will follow their dictates. Need of the hour is an international arrangement of complete disarmament with provisions of monitoring and verification.
Considering ongoing geopolitical conflicts across the world, do you think Non- Nuclear States should push Nuclear States towards disarmament of their nuclear weapons? What factors have determined India’s stance on disarmament? Critically discuss. (200 Words)
Only attack on Japan at the end of WW2, provided that any further use of Nuclear weapon will bring human civilisation to an end. We have seen peaceful journey of Nuclear Weapons through Cold War and initiation of disarmament by START treaty. But, India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons and threaten regional peace. Illegal weapons in possession of Israel and North Korea increased such threats.
The current situation in Gulf, African, and Latin American nations suggests that 5-6 countries shall pursue nuke weapons if they got opportunity, because there is still a feeling in third world nations that unless you possess nuke, you remain unheard.
There is no need for US and Russia to keep their 800 nuclear warheads on their respective SLBMs around the world. Disarmament is must to reduce the risk of nuclear catastrophe.
But, any of such proposals from non-nuclear nations will be ineffective.
India’s stand on disarmament is justified. By not signing NPT and CTBT, India made it clear that process of reduction of nukes should be initiated from super Powers. But, India’s capacity to produce 100 tons weapons grade plutonium and increase nuclear warheads from 100 to 1000 within months is also a contrast to it international stand on disarmament.
Though such ability is necessary and factors affect are:
  1. Hostile geo-position surrounded by rogue nations
  2. India’s credible record of Nuclear Non-proliferation
  3. India “No First Use policy” & “self-moratorium” on further tests
Nuclear disarmament refers to both the act of reducing or eliminating nuclear weapons and to the end state of a nuclear-weapon-free world, in which nuclear weapons are completely eliminated. Although key treaties such as CTBT (not yet in force) and NPT have been signed, due to several issues, these have failed to either stop nuclear proliferation or encourage  disarmament. The reasons for which Non-Nuclear States should push
Nuclear States towards disarmament are:
  1. High potential of humanitarian dangers from the use- deliberate or accidental- of nuclear weapons by state and non-state actors
  2. Rather than acting as factors of deterrence, nuclear weapons have only made the world far more insecure (Security Dilemma concept)
  3. A non-universal nuclear disarmament regime (in which the nuclear weapon states are given indefinite rights of holding nuclear weapons) is not only unfair to non-nuclear weapon states but also encourages proliferation of nuclear weapons
Thus the non-nuclear weapon states should push NWS towards comprehensive, time bound and verifiable nuclear disarmament. Although India (especially Nehru) was one of the first few states to have promoted cooperation towards the goal of non-proliferation and a nuclear weapons free world, it is not signatory to either NPT or CTBT. The factors that determined India’s stance on disarmament are:
  1. India’s suggestion of universal disarmament was not accepted. India did not support the division of the world into nuclear haves and have-nots
  2. No time bound, verifiable nuclear disarmament plan of the NWS has been agreed to. Thus the NPT stopped only horizontal proliferation but not vertical
  3. India’s geo-strategic considerations also play a role as we have two nuclear neighbours with “expansionist” ambitions
However, by signing the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement, India has agreed to IAEA inspections (recent signing of additional protocol) at 14 of its facilities. We have been a responsible nuclear power with a commitment to “no first use” policy and a self-issued moratorium on nuclear weapons testing. India is now open to signing the NPT, but only if it is recognized as a NWS.
Critically comment on the success of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in stopping proliferation of nuclear weapons around the world. Looking at ongoing geopolitical struggles around the world, do you think non – proliferation can be achieved? Discuss. (200 Words)
The Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which entered into force in 1970, has the following objectives –
  1. Prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology
  2. Promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and
  3. Achieve the general and complete nuclear disarmament.
Success of NPT in stopping proliferation of nuclear weapons around the world is being rightly questioned because:
  1. After 1970, when the treaty came into effect, four more countries acquired nuclear weapons. These were India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. So compliance isn’t mandatory and non-compliance doesn’t have costs, or at least costs that can deter countries from acquiring these wpons.
  2. The treaty is arbitrary and discriminatory and is seen by many developing states including India as a conspiracy of the nuclear ‘haves‘ to keep the nuclear ‘have-nots‘ in their place.
  3. The NPT is state-centric and increasingly, the problem the NPT faces come in the form of non-state actors and its suitability to deal with such problems is at best debatable.
It is extremely difficult to imagine a completely nuclear arms free world because of the following reasons:
  1. Flawed nature of the NPT that divides the world into nuclear haves and have-nots
  2. Security dilemma which leads to nuclear arms race (as in the case of India and Pakistan developing nuclear weapons; also seen in Saudi Arabia‘s case)
  3. The perception (often true) that possession of nuclear weapons gives more prestige and respect in the international regime and a sense of security
  4. Unwillingness of nuclear weapon states to move towards complete time-bound nuclear  disarmament
  5. Lack of faith in collective security



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top