The Fragile State of Nuclear Disarmament
GS Paper- 3, Energy and Security.
- The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) issued its yearbook a few days ago, detailing certain patterns in international security over the last year.
- Russia leads the way in terms of absolute quantities of nuclear weapons. During the 2017-2021 timeframe, India is the leading importer of weaponry.
- Other nations in the top five list of weaponry importers are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, China, and Australia. SIPRI estimates that these five countries account for 38% of total worldwide weaponry imports.
- Recent geopolitical developments in nearly every part of the world have made the global security situation more volatile. Military modernization is considered as a worldwide trend. Over the years, all nuclear-weapons nations have claimed and sought to modernise various aspects of their military forces.
- The act of lowering or eliminating nuclear weapons is known as nuclear disarmament. It can also be the final state of a nuclear-weapons-free society in which nuclear weapons have been fully eradicated. Denuclearization is also used to denote the process that leads to total nuclear disarmament.
- Because of the grave dangers inherent in nuclear war and the possession of nuclear weapons, treaties on disarmament and non-proliferation have been agreed upon.
- Nuclear disarmament advocates argue that it would reduce the likelihood of nuclear conflict, particularly if it occurred accidently. Nuclear disarmament, according to critics, would undercut deterrence and increase the frequency of conventional warfare.
- Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) of 1963 prohibited all nuclear weapons testing except underground.
- Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was signed in 1968 and entered into force in 1970. An international pact (now signed by 189 countries) aimed at limiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The pact is built on three pillars: non-proliferation, disarmament, and the right to utilise nuclear technology peacefully.
- Interim Agreement on Offensive Arms (SALT I) 1972: The Soviet Union and the United States agreed to a freeze on the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) that they would deploy.
- Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) 1972: The United States and the Soviet Union agreed to install ABM interceptors at two locations, each with up to 100 ground-based launchers for ABM interceptor missiles. In a 1974 Protocol, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to only install an ABM system at one location.
- SALT II (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty): SALT II, which replaced SALT I, confined the Soviet Union and the United States to the same number of ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and heavy bombers. Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicles were also restricted (MIRVS).
- Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) of 1987 prohibited the United States and the Soviet Union from using land-based ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and missile launchers with ranges of 500–1,000 kilometres (310–620 mi) (short medium-range) and 1,000–5,500 kilometres (620–3,420 mi) (long medium-range) (intermediate-range).
- Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I)—signed in 1991 and approved in 1994—limited long-range nuclear forces in the United States and newly independent states of the former Soviet Union to 6,000 attributable warheads on 1,600 ballistic missiles and bombers.
- Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty II (START II)—signed in 1993 but never implemented: START II was a bilateral agreement between the United States and Russia that tried to commit each side to installing no more than 3,000 to 3,500 warheads by December 2007. It also prohibited the use of multiple independent re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) on intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)
- Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT)—signed in 2002, entered into force in 2003: Russia and the United States agreed to limit their “strategic nuclear weapons” (a phrase that remained undefined in the pact) to between 1,700 and 2,200 by 2012. The deal was widely condemned by arms control campaigners for its vagueness and lack of depth. In 2010, the New Start Treaty took its place.
- CTBT (Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty)—signed in 1996 but not yet in force: The CTBT is an international treaty (now signed by 181 states and ratified by 148 states) that prohibits all nuclear explosions in all circumstances. Despite the fact that the pact is not in force, Russia has not tested a nuclear bomb since 1990, and the US has not since 1992.
- New START Treaty—signed in 2010, entered into force in 2011: replaces the SORT Treaty, decreases deployed nuclear weapons by roughly half, and will be in effect until 2026.
- Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons– signed in 2017, went into force on January 22, 2021: forbids its parties from possessing, manufacturing, developing, or testing nuclear weapons, as well as assisting in such operations.
- Only South Africa has ever entirely dismantled an indigenously created nuclear arsenal. South Africa’s apartheid regime developed a half-dozen primitive fission bombs in the 1980s, but they were destroyed in the early 1990s.
- Deterrence is broadly defined as any use of threats (implicit or explicit) or restricted force to deter an actor from acting (i.e., maintain the status quo).
- During the Cold War, the concept acquired popularity as a military tactic including the use of nuclear weapons.
- It is linked to, but not the same as, the notion of mutual assured destruction, which mimics the preventive nature of a full-scale nuclear assault that would decimate both parties in a nuclear conflict.
- The primary difficulty of deterrence is how to credibly threaten the opponent with military action or nuclear retribution notwithstanding the costs to the deterrer.
Nuclear Disarmament Issues:
- Nuclear ‘Haves’ and ‘Have-Nots’: Proponents of disarmament are nuclear-armed countries themselves, establishing a nuclear monopoly.
- Peaceful Nuclear Explosion (PNE) concept: performed for non-military objectives such as mining.
India’s commitment to nuclear disarmament:
- India has long advocated for a universal commitment and a worldwide, non-discriminatory multilateral system.
- It described a working paper on nuclear disarmament that was submitted to the United Nations General Assembly in 2006.
- India participated in the Nuclear Security Summit process and has attended International Conferences on Nuclear Security organised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on a regular basis.
- India is a member of the Nuclear Security Contact Group (although it has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)).
- India has stated its willingness to support the start of discussions on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT).
- Due to many concerns highlighted by India, India was unable to join the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
- Since 2002, India has piloted a yearly UNGA Resolution on “Measures to Prevent Terrorists from Acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction,” which is unanimously endorsed.
What kind of nuclear weapon does India have?
India possesses neutron, fission, and thermonuclear bombs with a total yield of up to 200 Kilotons. Pokhran-II had five detonations, one of which was a fusion bomb and the other four were fission bombs. The bombs may be fired by land, air, or sea, making India one of the few nuclear triad states in the world.
Why did India choose nuclear power?
- India lost the battle with China in 1962. China successfully tested nuclear weapons two years later, in 1964. Furthermore, the Sino-Pakistan alliance had a role. As a result, the Indian government determined that only a strong deterrence could keep their aggressors at away. As a result, India made the decision to build nuclear weapons.
India has how many land-based nuclear missiles?
- Strategic Forces Command is in charge of controlling and deploying the country’s 68 nuclear warheads (estimated). It makes use of both vehicles and launching silos.
What are the primary characteristics of India’s Nuclear Doctrine?
The following are some of the key elements of India’s nuclear doctrine.
- “No First Use” policy — India will only use nuclear weapons if it is attacked with nuclear weapons.
- It claims that nuclear weapons are only for deterrence and that India will follow a “retaliation-only” strategy.
- Nuclear retaliation may be authorised only by civilian political leadership.
- If deterrence fails, the Indian government will not retaliate with severe measures.
- Nuclear weapons shall never be utilised against governments that do not possess nuclear weapons.
What lies ahead:
- Recent geopolitical developments in nearly every part of the world have made the global security situation more volatile. The air is lulled by a feeling of peril.
- It is supported further by the conduct of authoritarian leaders of non-democratic systems as well as strongmen leaders of democratic ones.
- These nations’ robust military policies, along with the constant use of rhetoric that fuels popular feeling about the state’s use of military capabilities, provide the circumstances for the situation to worsen. A robust political opposition would be required to keep the governing regime in check.
- Furthermore, the major nuclear-weapons states must play a more active role in international affairs.
- SIPRI’s yearbook, while not without its issues, compels us to examine critically how the global disarmament initiative appears to be progressing.