Nuclear arms race has been the most defining feature of cold war. USA was the first country to create nuclear weapon and so far the only country that has used nuclear weapon.
The logic of security during the cold war was based on MAD or nuclear balance. NPT ensured that the number of countries possessing nuclear weapon remain minimum possible. NPT can be treated as fairly successful.
Throughout cold war, there has been qualitative and quantitative arms race. There has been development in launching techniques. In 1952, USA tested hydrogen bomb. In 1961, USSR tested Tsar Bomb (the king of bombs). The largest nuclear device so far.
During cold war, countries develop ICBMs, a way to achieve nuclear deterrence by massive retaliation.
Ronald Reagan planned strategic defense initiative, satellite based weapons.
Towards the end of cold war, we see global disarmament efforts like CTBT and bilateral efforts. The prominent being INF treaty, CFE (Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe), START I and New START treaty.
However since 2002 we see the beginning of new arms race. USA came out of ABM treaty. Since the end of cold war we see the number of countries possessing nuclear weapons has increased. Besides nuclear arms race between USA and Russia, a new arms race has started between China, India and Pakistan.
There is effort by North Korea to strengthen its deterrence and by Iran to acquire deterrence. There is fear of nuclear terrorism. Thus the present arms race has become multipolar, along with complex interdependence. It is showing the typical features of post modern world.
Recently USA has announced that it will come out of INF treaty. INF treaty had provided stability in Europe. It bans the production and deployment of Short Range Missiles.
The foreign policy concept of Russia, published in Nov 2016 suggest that Russia considers deterrence as necessary for peace.
Nuclear posture review of USA, published in Feb 2018 mentions modernization of nuclear triad by USA. It also openly recognizes for the first time that China is seeking regional hegemony in Asia Pacific. Up till now the document focused only on Russia. It also says that the aim of China is not just to challenge US hegemony but to establish itself as a pre-eminent power. It has demanded $1.2 trillion for 30 year modernization plan which has been granted. Similarly Russia is also developing short range missiles, one of the reason given by USA to come out of INF treaty.
India and the Arms Race
India has also started new arms race in South Asia. India has entered into deal with Russia to acquire S400 Triumph missile defence system. So far, the most advanced air defence system which can engage multiple targets at the same time. It has capacity to engage up till 36 targets at the same time at speed faster than the most fighter aircrafts.
It has special panoramic radar which can detect the threat as far as 600km away and can engage the target at the range of 400kms.
India is also acquiring Barak 8, long range surface to Air missile system, crucial for Indian navy. It is important as China is increasing its presence in Indian ocean. Similarly Triumph will cover most of Pakistan. However China is also buying 6 Triumphs to be deployed against USA.
INS Arihant is now operationally ready.
Thus there is a need for new multilateral treaty framework, which involves India, Pakistan, North Korea also. According to Rakesh Sood traditional nuclear arms control agreements are based on bipolar world. New agreements have to take into consideration the new reality of multipolar world and the fact that the technology is ending the distinction between conventional and nuclear weapons.