Sunday, February 5, 2012

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Resolution

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) have always been in focus since more than a decade. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) had already unanimously adopted a resolution asking all non-NPT states to join the treaty.
The 15-member council, while urging “other states” outside the NPT to join the controversial treaty as “non-nuclear states” to help rid the world of atom bombs, also urged all countries to sign and ratify the CTBT and refrain from conducting atomic tests. India has not signed the CTBT yet.
The Security Council had adopted a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Resolution. Through this resolution, the Security Council had called upon all nations to sign the NPT. The countries that have not so far signed it have been asked to do so. Under this treaty a ban has been imposed on making nuclear bomb in the future.
The “other states”, which were not named in the resolution, were a clear reference to Pakistan and India, which have not signed the NPT, but are known to have atomic arsenals, and Israel, which neither confirms nor denies having nuclear arms but is believed to have a sizeable stockpile of warheads.
The resolution also calls for talks on drafting a treaty to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. The mandate of the council came when it approved the resolution 1887 that calls on countries that have not signed the nuclear NPT “to comply fully with all their obligations”. The resolution will strengthen the NPT.
India’s Stance
A convergence of international factors — political, economic and military — has led to a situation where correct and timely decisions on the treaty can enhance India’s standing as a nuclear weapon state as well as brighten its economic prospects.
The reverse is also true. It is, therefore, important that the ongoing debate in the country on the CTBT is set on the right parameters.
Hitherto, the debate has been fudged by hangovers from the past. The NPT and CTBT have criss-crossed, their lines of distinction blurred in public perception. Another term in current international lexicon, the Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty (FMCT), adds to the confusion.
Little is understood about the FMCT and the clout that India could wield by a correct posturing on this treaty, which is still in the making. Even more than the substance of these treaties — distinct in themselves — it is the history surrounding them that has influenced opinion in this country. It would be in order, therefore, to have a glimpse of this history and a closer look at what these treaties mean to India.
India has decided to affix its signature on the treaty. India has refused to abide by the Security Council resolution asking all non-NPT nations to sign the pact, saying it cannot accept the “externally prescribed norms or standards” on issues that are contrary to its national interests or infringe on its sovereignty. India said it could not join the NPT as a non-weapon country even as it reiterated its commitment to no testing and no-first-use besides non-discriminatory universal non-proliferation.
The Indian Air Force chief recently expressed apprehension of a possibility of a nuclear attack on India. In the past also India was asked to sign the NPT, but it declined to do so pleading that unless and until nuclear-weapon nations destroy their nuclear arms, the treaty would be useless. Now, India has yet again refused to sign the NPT. At that time India stated that some other nations are in possession of nuclear weapons, hence it will need to make its own nuclear weapons for the sake of self-defense because in view of the need of self-defense it is not advisable to sign the NPT.
Now, India, once again declining to be a signatory to the treaty, vehemently opposed the UN security calls. It pleaded: "We cannot implement the regulations thrust upon other nations, for these impinge upon the sovereignty and national interests." It will not be in the country's interests to accept such decisions.
India has already taken a categorical stand not to make first use of the nuclear weapons to which it is completely committed. India's permanent representative at the United Nations, Hardip Singh Puri, has in a communication to Susan Rice of Security Council raised questions on its role in the implementation of international treaties.
India’s refusal to sign the NPT is based on unexceptionable grounds of national security. While Pakistan has been a ‘rogue state’ which has fuelled nuclear proliferation by sharing its know-how for making nuclear weapons with China, North Korea, Libya and Iran, India has had an absolutely clean record of eschewing both proliferation and aggressive intent. It is this country’s misfortune that it is flanked by a nuclear-armed China which has had expansionist designs in the past and a hand-in-glove nuclear Pakistan which is most untrustworthy and sinister. If, in the circumstances, India seeks to retain its right to stay nuclear to deter its recalcitrant neighbors, it can hardly be faulted. India’s stand that the nuclear weapon states must work towards total disarmament to carry conviction is also perfectly legitimate.
There has been an important transformation after Pokhran II: India is now unambiguously a weapon state, with transparent and credible nuclear weapon capability. The thermonuclear test, backed by advanced Indian nuclear technology, further uplifted India’s status, completely changing India’s situation vis-a-vis the CTBT. Hurdles to India to being a full signatory to the CTBT are not per se in the draft of the treaty as such but in the continuing shadow cast by the NPT. In the event, the right course would be for India to declare its adherence to the CTBT unambiguously, while reserving the final step of signing and ratifying to an assurance from the United States — and others — that in implementation of CTBT, India’s nuclear status will be equal to the five recognized weapon powers.
Demand for Amendment to NPT Treaty
Simultaneously, eight nations of the world, including India, have demanded an amendment in the NPT treaty. The Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution on nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. The resolution passed by 15-member SC that the remaining nations should sign the NPT. The resolution adopted under the leadership of the United States, China, and Russia also has affirmed it.

Many nations, including India have not signed the NPT. The plea put forward by them is that developed nations have built their nuclear weapon reserves and the NPT is being thrust upon other nations, which is absolutely unjustified. The question arises whether countries in possession of nuclear weapons will not browbeat countries that do not have such weapons. For instance, Pakistani rulers in the past have been holding out, lamenting nuclear attacks on India.
Obama’s Indication
US President Barack Obama first signaled his dedication to the cause of the NPT at Prague way back in April 2009. While stressing non-proliferation, and indicating his preference for reducing the US stockpile of nuclear weapons, the US leader revealingly also said, "Make no mistake: As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary, and guarantee that defence to our allies." This underlines that the US proposes one set of standards for itself, and another for India. This country’s long-held position has been that it is in favor of comprehensive nuclear disarmament, and that non-proliferation is not a substitute for this. President Obama is yet to offer disarmament as an attainable goal.
So long as that remains the case, it will continue to be on the wrong side of political morality. India too has been lax in not publicly countering the American stance under Obama right after Prague. It has also been remiss on another count. After the passage of UNSC Resolution 1887, its official view is that it won’t sign the NPT as a non-nuclear weapons state, whose obligations are of a different order under the NPT from those who have come on board as nuclear weapons states. This is at variance with this country’s original stance that the NPT ought to be rejected on grounds of being an inequitable arrangement that allows nuclear weapons only in the hands of a few.
Even now, India has voiced the apprehension that it is faced with a threat from Pakistani terrorists that intend to carry out a nuclear offensive against India because it is apprehended that some of the nuclear weapons of Pakistan have found their way to Al-Qaida and other groups. The United States had stated that Pakistani terrorists pose a big threat to India.
Even as the United Nations desires to make the world free of nuclear weapons as per the secretary general, it is high time to move forward. India has declined to sign the NPT, saying that it will not do so until nuclear weapon nations destroy their nuclear weapon reserves. The Indian stand is fully justified.
In varying degrees, the five NPT weapon powers are unwilling to give up their superior status which finds no place in the CTBT as such. A new brand of doublespeak nuclear diplomacy is at work. China wants India and Pakistan to give up their nuclear weapon status, citing a Security Council resolution, while France and Russia are veering round to de facto acceptance of India's nuclear weapon status provided this country accedes to the CTBT. The US, the decisive power in creation of the global non-proliferation regime, is mid-way.

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