NPT – Non Proliferation Treaty
It is a keystone of global nuclear non-proliferation structure. It has almost universal membership (190 members). The only countries out are India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea, South Sudan.
NPT was initially for the limited time but later on, in NPT review conference 1995 it has been extended permanently. What is the implication for India? If India has to join, it has to join under the present framework. It will not be reviewed for India.
NPT is criticized by disarmament lobby for two reasons.
1] There is no fixed time to achieve nuclear disarmament.
2] NPT only delegitimize proliferation, it does not delegitimize the possession of nuclear weapons.
The new treaty on prohibition of nuclear weapons 2017 can be seen as an attempt to delegitimize the possession of nuclear weapons.
NPT is not seen as a genuine attempt to achieve nuclear weapon free world. It allows the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. According to the critics, NPT is a compromise to fulfill the interest of the nuclear industry. According to the critics, nuclear technology is a dual use technology. If country gets the technology of enrichment of uranium for medical purposes, there is no way to assume that it will not result into country acquiring capability of enrichment for making weapons. Until and unless nuclear commerce is completely prohibited, we cannot achieve genuine disarmament. e.g. they accuse India, Iran, North Korea.
1] India learning the nuclear technology as a part of peaceful use but utilized it to develop nuclear weapons.
2] The example of Iran and North Korea.
Iran continues to be a member of NPT, still Iran has diverted the material and technology for developing weapons.
North Korea joined NPT, developed nuclear know-how as a part of peaceful use of nuclear energy allowed for NPT members. Once it became fully equipped, it has utilized the provisions of the treaty, under which a country has to give 3 months notice to come out of the agreement.
Salient provisions of NPT
NPT has 3 pillars.
2] Peaceful use.
1] Non Proliferation.
NPT divides the countries into two groups. Nuclear weapon states and Non nuclear weapon states. There was a bargains with non-nuclear weapon states, that if they give up acquiring nuclear weapon, in exchange they will get full civil nuclear cooperation.
Which states are nuclear weapon states? The states which had tested their nuclear device before 1968. Coincidently P5 countries. Rest of the states are non-nuclear weapon states. Thus non-nuclear weapon states are not allowed to posses nuclear weapons. Hence NPT prevents horizontal proliferation.
However, treaty does not prevent, vertical proliferation. This is the main argument of India to stay away from the treaty. According to govt. of India, it creates the world of nuclear haves and have nots. It is inherently discriminatory in nature.
Analysis of India’s stand. Impractical. Idealistic and to some extent illogical. USA’s approach. Pragmatic. It was the only practical way to start nuclear disarmament. First we have to check the number of countries acquiring nuclear weapons. More number of countries will make it more difficult to arrive at consensus.
Considering the state of animosity it was impractical to accept that USA and Russia will agree to eliminate nuclear weapons. To handle vertical proliferation, the only practical approach was to encourage countries to go for bilateral agreements and gradual arms control. e.g. US and Russia entered into series of agreements like SALT treaty, ABM treaty, IMF treaty.
2] Peaceful Use (Role of IAEA).
IAEA will acts as a watchdog. It will ensure that countries do not divert the nuclear material for weapon purposes. Member countries of NPT were supposed to sign the comprehensive protocol agreement with IAEA. Analysis: It is also the weakest feature of the treaty because IAEA could not prevent or check the diversion of materials by Iran and North Korea for weapon purposes. Why? A) Lack of resources hamper the capacity/expertise of IAEA. B) Lack of cooperation by the member countries. C) Nuclear weapons states (P5) ignore the actions for geopolitical purposes. D) China itself supported the nuclear program of North Korea, Pakistan and Iran.
Disarmament is the weakest pillar because it does not prescribe a fixed time to achieve the goal of disarmament. 1) India finds treaty discriminatory. 2) Lack of clarity with respect to disarmament.
Should India have joined? Yes. India should have joined the treaty. 1) India could have procured the technology which could have helped India to reach to the third state of its nuclear program from commercially viable perspective. 2) Treaty allowed countries to come out giving 3 months notice. 3) If India had joined NPT, it would have been difficult for Pakistan not to join NPT. 4) If Pakistan had joined NPT but still violated NPT norms, India could have pushed international community to impose sanctions against Pakistan. 5) India also had an option to come out and make its own nuclear weapons.
Should India join now? No. Now it is not required. India will not agree to dismantle the nuclear weapons and NPT will not change for India. India would be willing to join as Nuclear weapon state. However it will set the wrong precedent for other countries. It will destroy the structure of NPT itself.
After civil agreement with USA, there is not much need for India to join NPT as USA has committed full civil nuclear commerce with India. USA has also promised to include India in all commercial regimes. India is at present only out of NSG. India can utilize its membership in MTCR from where China is absent and China is willing to be a member, to bargain with China.
CTBT – Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Should India join. Yes. India should join CTBT. CTBT is a attempt to check vertical proliferation. It is complementary to NPT. It prevents further testing, which is required for qualitative improvement.
We already have PTBT (Partial Test Ban Treaty) which bans the testing in atmosphere and water. At present, underground testing is permitted. CTBT will prevent underground testing as well.
What is the status of global support? It also has huge support. 183 countries have signed. 163 have ratified. The prominent countries which are out are: 1. USA, China – Signed but not ratified. 2. India – Neither signed nor ratified. 3. Pakistan – Neither signed nor ratified. Other countries which are out are North Korea, Iran.
What are India’s objections? India’s representative Arundhati Ghose explicitly stated at conference on disarmament, that India will neither join now nor ever. According to India 1) No time bound commitment for disarmament. 2) It also maintains the world of nuclear haves and have nots.
According to India, it is neither comprehensive nor test ban. Why? The treaty bans underground testing but P5 countries have the capacity for the computer simulated testing. Hence it is a eye wash .They will keep on increasing their capabilities.
Why India should join now? 1) India has also developed capacity for simulated testing. 2) India is under self imposed moratorium on further testing. 3) Under civil nuclear agreement with USA, there is a prohibition that India cannot conduct further tests. What will be the benefit if India joins the treaty? 1) There is no harm. 2) It will strengthen India’s credibility and can be a strong reason to advance India’s case in NSG. What is way forward? Like USA, sign but don’t ratify it.
FMCT (Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty) and India
[Fissile – Weapon grade material. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) and Plutonium.]
Nature of the treaty? It can be treated as disarmament treaty as it will prohibit the production of fissile material or weapon grade material.
India is under obligation to sign FMCT under civil nuclear agreement (Ind-US). India is working with USA for the conclusion of the treaty. Negotiations are going on since 1950s. The present format of negotiations is under Shannon mandate. As per mandate, treaty will come into existence only with consensus.
At present Pakistan has used veto. Pakistan wants the destruction of existing stockpiles besides future. India and USA favour only future production and not existing. According to Pakistan, without including the already accumulated stockpile, treaty will not serve its purpose. Pakistan is fearful that India has more stock. At present Pakistan is fast developing its nuclear stockpile to gain parity with India before treaty comes into existence. There is also a disagreement between India and USA. 1) USA does not favour international verification, it favors domestic verification. 2) USA does not agree for including certain materials like Americium in the prohibited list because directly it is not a fissile material but when added, it acts as a catalyst and enhance the potential.
Treaty on prohibition of nuclear weapons. (TPNW)
It came into existence on 7 July 2017. It entered into force from Dec 2017. 124 countries participated, 122 signed. Singapore abstained, Netherlands used negative vote. None of the nuclear weapon state and their allies signed the treaty. Surprisingly Japan is also not a part of the treaty. The treaty is enforceable only on the member countries. What is the unique aspect of the treaty? For the first time there is a disarmament treaty which is drafted by civil society and which emphasize on humanitarian and ecological consequences of nuclear weapons. The treaty aims to achieve nuclear weapon free world. Does India aim to achieve nuclear weapon free world? Yes. India is at the forefront of global disarmament efforts. Even India’s nuclear doctrine, it is mentioned that India believes that its security is served better in a nuclear weapon free world and India will consistently work for it. However India has also not signed the treaty. What are the provisions of the treaty? Treaty is based on the approach of social constructivism. It aims to stigmatize the possession of nuclear weapons. Treaty prohibits Development, Stock Piling, Stationing, Production, Transfer, Use, Threat of Use, Assistance, Training, Encouragement with respect to the nuclear weapons. Thus it is comprehensively dealing with the issue of nuclear weapons. (This has also been India’s objective).
Treaty aims to establish, transparent, comprehensive, irreversible disarmament (this is also India’s aim). Treaty provides for assistance to the victims of the use, testing of nuclear weapons. It also provides for obligation for remedial action for contamination of the environment by testing. The conference acknowledged that countries actually do not have preparedness to deal with nuclear catastrophe. The treaty suggests the need for development of humanitarian laws in context of nuclear weapon related tests
Limitations of treaty.
Treaty does not mention any legal, technical measures to achieve the aim, left it on the states to negotiate the procedures, thus it looks at the incremental approach. However the treaty provides for the system of verification, safeguard so that parties develop trust and disarmament can logically move towards the realization in time bound manner.
Why Nuclear weapon states opposed?
UK, USA and France gave following reasons.
In the current security environment, no such treaty is feasible.
It will undermine NPT, deterrence it the only way to maintain peace.
It does not suggest the way to deal with North Korean nuclear crisis.
Russia and China expressed no reasons.
Ministry of External Affairs, Govt. of India released official statement on 18th July 2017.
India attaches utmost priority to universal, comprehensive, non-discriminatory, verifiable nuclear disarmament. India is not a party to the treaty. Nor under any obligation. India does not recognize treaty as a part of customary law. [Countries are supposed to follow customary law even when they are not formally a member of the agreement. ]
India held that India recognizes that there is no change in existing international laws related to war because of the treaty. India had objection that the treaty was negotiated at UN general assembly. From India’s point of view, it should have been negotiated at conference on disarmament. In UN general assembly, decision can be taken by majority whereas in conference on disarmament, consensus is required. As per ministry of external affairs, India stick to its 3 pillared approach.
1] Universal prohibition.
2] Complete elimination.
3] International verification.
Should India have signed the treaty? No. If India had signed and other nuclear weapon states do not sign, it will be detrimental to India’s security.
Way forward. Continuously work for achieving global disarmament.
Is treaty relevant when it does not eliminate even a single weapon since none of the nuclear weapon state is a party? Treaty is relevant.
Views of Nina Tannenwald.
The purpose of treaty is to develop a new culture. The treaty has stigmatized the possession of nuclear weapon. It also makes nuclear weapons illegitimate. It gives message to nuclear weapon states that international community does not approve the possession. NPT only de-legitimizes proliferation but not possession. However this treaty does that.
According to her, treaty is pathbreaking in 3 ways.
1] For the first time it is accepted that the possession of nuclear weapons is not just a security issue, it is also humanitarian and ecological issue.
2] Democratization of disarmament diplomacy.
3] It will develop new norms and taboos.