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Deviant Behaviors In Non-Proliferation Regime – OpEd

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In the contemporary international environment, one of the foremost prevailing challenges to global peace, security and stability is the spread of nuclear weapons. The international mechanism to combat nuclear proliferation is becoming increasingly ‘inadequate’ not only to deal with potential proliferators, which are few yet more determined, but also undermines objectives of the Articles I, II, IV and VI of the NPT. Article I of NPT prohibits each Nuclear Weapon State (NWS) party to the Treaty from transferring nuclear technology to Non-Nuclear Weapon State (NNWS).

Under Article II, each NNWS party to the treaty undertakes not to receive the transfer from any transferor. Article IV talks about the right of all the parties to the Treaty to produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, without discrimination and in conformity with articles I and II of this treaty. Article VI calls states parties to the Treaty to pursue negotiations for cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and ultimately to nuclear disarmament. Until the 1980s, the international measures to prevent horizontal nuclear proliferation were relatively more successful, but later not only India, Israel and Pakistan became de facto nuclear weapon states but the non-nuclear weapon states (Iran, North Korea, Libya and Syria) were not fully committed by the instruments of international non-proliferation regime. So far, nine states (P-5, T-3 and North Korea) have acquired nuclear weapons while more than 40 states have technological capability to acquire them.

The efforts that took place to curb the spread of nuclear weapons have reinforced the impression that under the changing dynamics of global politics and regional/national security, challenges to nuclear non-proliferation are ineffectively addressed. The NPT review conferences, which took place every five years, have often failed to achieve consensus on a final document on different issues pertaining to non-proliferation. Disagreement between NWS and NNWS on nuclear disarmament/horizontal nuclear proliferation under Article VI of the treaty, which calls upon P-5 NWS to ‘pursue negotiations’ for ‘effective measures’ within the framework of the NPT, lingers on with no consensus in sight. Similarly differences continue to persist in the interpretation and application of article IV of the NPT on peaceful uses of nuclear technology.

The institutional structure and process of the non-proliferation regime has by itself not been fairly adopted and therefore could not be successful in tackling issues like transfer of nuclear technology and fissile material from NWS to NNWS. Though Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) and Nuclear Safety and Security addressed through the Nuclear Security Summits (NSS) have succeeded in creating institutional frameworks to address the problems but have yet to fully achieve their objectives.

The discrimination exercised in the implementation of the non-proliferation standards and employment of the Non-Proliferation Regime (NPR) as an instrument of great-power’s foreign and strategic policies’ objectives has raised questions about the sincerity behind its creation and subsequent application. The original and revived advancement of Indo-US Nuclear Deal undermines the non-proliferation efforts as it violates Articles I and II of the NPT and defy its primary objective to prevent nuclear proliferation. Moreover, India’s potential inclusion in Nuclear Supply Group (NSG), after the India-specific exemption to NSG guidelines, is disturbing regional nuclear equilibrium and triggering Pakistan to indulge in a nuclear arm race to ensure credible deterrence which is posing serious challenges to nonproliferation regime.

Likewise, the country-specific safeguards display a discriminatory institutional mechanism of the nonproliferation regime and undermine the nonproliferation endeavors. Moreover, India and the US last year renewed an enhanced Defense Framework Agreement for the next ten years and identified four key “pathfinder projects” for joint development and production including the next generation Raven mini UAVs and specialized kits for C-130 military transport aircraft. Both countries also agreed on a Working Group to explore aircraft carrier technology besides designing and development of jet engine technology. These developments not only raises question about discriminatory nature of Nuclear Proliferation Regime, India’s speedy nuclear program but may instigate the NPT NNWS signatory states to opt out of the Treaty or violate Treaty obligations and pursue acquisition of nuclear weapons. The withdrawal clause, Article X of NPT, already accepts the rights of member states to withdraw from the treaty. India’s accumulation of uranium through deals with Australia, Canada and other countries based on NSG exemption is generating immense pressure on Pakistan to maintain strategic/deterrence equilibrium against India.

The two important elements of the nonproliferation regime, CTBT and FMCT, have never come into effect which questions the status of nonproliferation efforts. Moreover, the Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) is another critical sidelined issue on the UN disarmament and arms control agenda. The weaponization and militarization of space undermines the security of NNWS.

In this vein, among several other factors, a decrease in nuclear weapons inventories of NWS is a critical step in maintaining Global Nuclear Order. However, the ambiguity and secrecy about defining exact number of nuclear weapons by a state, creates general uncertainty, mistrust and misunderstanding. In addition, all the nations with the nuclear weapons continue to modernize or upgrade their nuclear weapons.

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Recently, North Korea claimed to detonate hydrogen bomb or thermonuclear weapon, which is far more powerful than the first three North Korea tested in 2006, 2009 and 2013. Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test is taken internationally as another reminder of the seemingly intractable problem of North Korea. The country’s pursuit of nuclear weapons has apparently been unstoppable. North Korea has proceeded with its weapons program despite sanctions, isolation, military threats, and attempts at engagement and reconciliation. At a time when the United States is moving toward normalizing relations with Cuba and extolling historic progress through diplomacy with Iran, U.S. relations with North Korea are increasingly anachronistic. But Pyongyang’s conventional military capability, its often-convoluted relations with its neighbors and the United States, and the ambiguous examples of other states’ paths to developing or abandoning nuclear weapons have made solving the North Korean problem a complex challenge indeed. North Korea has said it is developing (all missiles) under its nuclear program for deterrence purposes only and North Korea will continue to develop these capabilities until it balances the security structure in the Korean peninsula.

No doubt, the total number of nuclear warheads in the world is on perpetual decrease; however, the constant up-gradation and modernization of nuclear arsenals by nuclear weapon states show a disorder in Global Nuclear Order generally and NPR particularly. Despite years of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation struggles, nuclear weapons remain integral to the conception of national security of nuclear weapon states. It could be inferred that global nuclear inventories would keep on increasing and modernizing unless robust, rational and unbiased non-proliferation efforts are streamlined by major nuclear power states. Otherwise states would continue spending a major junk of their budgets on nuclear weapon program in self-defense.


*The writer is a member of an Islamabad based think-tank, Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) and can be reached at [email protected]

4 thoughts on “Deviant Behaviors In Non-Proliferation Regime – OpEd

  • April 25, 2016 at 5:04 pm
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    The flaw in the NPT as it was designed is that it tries to separate nuclear power for supposedly peaceful purposes from nuclear weapons when the fact is that a nation with nuclear reactors has the means of creating enough weapons-grade materials with which to build nuclear weapons.The treaty itself, in my opinion, is a testimony to the US wanting to have it both ways: to restrain proliferation while at the same time selling nuclear technologies to just about all customers. No one can restrain and promote an industry at the same time. The recent deals with India are instructive: the US was wrong to make them, because India is not in the NPT and because the deal has destabilized its tense relations with Pakistan. But money was to be made.
    N. Korea is a creature of the US desire to keep it as part of its “axis of evil,” to which end the US regularly holds threatening military exercises with the South and has always kept nuclear weapons in the South. So what did anyone think the North would do when its existence was constantly under threat? Build nukes. When the Korean conflict ended, there should have been a massive diplomatic effort to reunify the Korean peninsula, work out a peace treaty or both. The US bears the blame for its failure to do this. In 1982, Sec. Albright made a perfectly reasonable deal with the North to supply crude oil and a light water reactor (to replace the North’s dangerous graphite-moderated reactor), in return for the North returning to the NPT and allowing IAEA inspections. This deal was before the North had developed any weapons, but our corrupt Congress would not fund the deal, so a golden opportunity was lost–which the world will pay for eventually.
    Last, Article VI of the NPT calls for a steady elimination of nuclear weapons by the possessing states, but the US and the other powers have never had the slightest desire to carry out its terms, and do not now when THE US is building a new nuke, the B-61 (more usable), and is determinedly refurbishing its entire arsenal. You don’t refurbish and eliminate a nuclear arsenal at the same time. The great historical irony here is that the US invented these demonic weapons, has peddled them to everyone, and has laid the groundwork for WWIII and the planet’s destruction. It is constantly finding “threats” everywhere, but the US IS THE THREAT.

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  • April 26, 2016 at 9:12 am
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    The two-tier structure of its membership that distinguishes between the five nuclear weapon states recognized by the NPT and the non-nuclear weapon states has from the start imparted a discriminatory character to the treaty. Although this differentiation was presented originally as only a temporary condition the fact that 45 years after its entry into force a central obligation — that of nuclear disarmament — has not been fulfilled perpetuates a two-class construct. The reality that the nuclear weapon states seem to be investing overwhelmingly in the modernization of their arsenals rather than in their elimination raises basic questions as to the credibility of their declaratory support for the Article VI commitments for nuclear disarmament.

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  • April 29, 2016 at 3:40 pm
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    The Nonproliferation regimes have become controversial due to the dual standard policies of the initiators. Now the super power the U.S. is pursuing the policy of alliance and unreasonable favors to India which is not a good example for other states. Such policies in fact of all P5 states has reduced the essence of NPT to the level of meaningless.

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  • May 2, 2016 at 11:52 am
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    Of late some elements within Pakistan have also been advocating revisiting of our nuclear paradigm to enhance our chances of being accepted as a normal nuclear state by the international community and at least allowing the commencement of dialogue on FMCT. I am afraid this is a skewed view of the issue, divorced from the ground realities. It is not about winning a nod of approval from the international community just for the sake of it. It is about our security which remains our topmost concern in the wake of the prevailing security threats.

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