Nuclear Disarmament Or Non-Proliferation Regime: Envisage Bleak Future – OpEd


The failure of the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s (NPT) Review Conference to produce a document with a substantive consensus has convinced many Pakistani experts that the country’s leadership has made correct decisions on nuclear issues in the past.

The NPT Review Conference has been held after every five years since the treaty went into force in 1970. This year’s conference held at the UN headquarters in New York from April 27 to May 22 looked into the implementation of the Treaty’s provisions since 2010. Review conferences on four previous occasions: 1980, 1990, 1995, and 2005 – had failed to deliver a final declaration.

The failure to produce a consensus document at the 2015 conference has led to disappointment across the world. It was widely expected that steps to be taken for advancing the 64 point Action Plan, agreed at the 2010 conference, for promoting nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy would be agreed upon. The opposition of the United States towards a plan for convening a conference on the establishment of the Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone and strong differences between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states on the divisive issue of disarmament prevented the participating countries from agreeing on a final document.

One of the Pakistani nuclear strategists pointed out that Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent should be both “credible and symmetric” with its conventional and strategic capabilities and that “refinement of the nuclear capabilities should continue.” Ambassador Tariq Osman Hyder, who untill recently was a member of the Oversight Board for Strategic Export Controls, said the collapse of the NPT Review Conference was a setback to the developed countries, which had projected this flawed and discriminatory treaty as the linchpin of the non-proliferation regime.

Likewise, the future of disarmament is bleak. This has been said upon many forums in or the other way. The disarmament talks are no more something to believe. Besides many optimistic statements on the future of disbarment has been given on and off by the Western powers especially the US. Ironically, when the country who is itself into changing laws and norms of the rules being a custodian itself, one should not consider it intentions of achieving disarmament more than a bluff. Pakistan very rightly took the decision in not joining the NPT and then conducting nuclear tests in 1998. Regarding the disarmament issue, narrating about Pakistan’s position in the Conference on Disarmament (CD), it was not Pakistan, but the major western powers which were obstructing progress on nuclear disarmament.

Talking about the disarmament initiative, the contemporary situation of Russia and the US initiatives was assessed. The point of concern is Russia’s apprehensions on the reduction of nuclear warheads from their countries to 1000 warheads apiece. Since it is the strategic stability in between both countries, a precondition to reduce or cut down the number of nuclear warheads, Russia apprehends that the US is violating or undermining it by developing prompt global-strike systems, expanding its ballistic missile defense and opposing the draft treaty banning weapons in outer space. So, for initiating the disarmament talks again whether bilateral or multilateral, one needs to deal with it through new inter-governmental dynamics or by use of a creative diplomacy; this would positively an add on from the non-proliferation perspective too.

Certainly, the biggest challenge to the future of the non-proliferation regime was from the failure to progress on disarmament. ‘The international non-proliferation regime could “collapse” due to the “short sightedness” of the nuclear weapon states, who are unwilling to give up their hegemony.’

There should be a combined and holistic approach by both nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states for making the non-proliferation regime “non-discriminatory, flawless, effective, and universal”.

The international non-proliferation regime has not only remained inadequate while dealing with instances of proliferation, but has also undermined the objectives of the Article IV of the NPT on transfer of nuclear technology for exclusively peaceful purposes. The major example of which is the Indo-US nuclear deal. This was back in 2008 when the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) decision to lift the ban on nuclear trade with India was taken out. This step constituted a lofty blow to an already beleaguered Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and global non-proliferation regime. The deal is also cause of promoting nuclear power, a prohibited and problematic technology; the emphasis on nuclear power is likely to deflect from the adoption of more ecologically sustainable sources of electricity generation.

Beenish Altaf

Beenish Altaf works for the Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad and be reached at [email protected]. Ms. Beenish Altaf holds masters degree in Defence and Diplomatic Studies from Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

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