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India’s contribution in Global Disarmament.

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Nuclear disarmament

India is a peace-loving nation. It achieved independence from centuries-old British colonial rule through peaceful non-violent movements. India has a long tradition of peace and apathy towards the war of any kind. Asoka the Great renounced the use of the weapon and abandoned the principles of war. This is one of the earliest examples of disarmament.

  • In 1954 India took the initiative to ban nuclear tests. India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru proposed at the U.N. a standstill agreement in respect of the atomic tests
  • The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was concluded in 1967, kept open for signature in 1968 and was promulgated in 1970 for a period of 25 years. The NPT has It been extended unconditionally and indefinitely by its Review and Extension Conference held in New York from 17th April to 12th May 1995. India objected to such a treaty calling it discriminatory.
  • India has categorically declared that it will not sign the Treaty in its present form because its indefinite extension only serves to perpetuate its discriminatory aspects which have created a division between the nuclear “haves” and “have nots”.
  • The concept of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was mentioned in the NPT. The CTBT has been planned to realize the objective of general and complete nuclear disarmament. The CTBT in present form, however, is not intended to make the weapon free world free from nuclear weapons. After the CTBT was ratified in 1996, negotiations on another treaty to cut off fissile material production have started in January 1997.
  • The proposed Fissile Material production Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) seeks to put a cut-off point in the sphere of fissile material production. India has refused to be a party in the FMCT. It has opposed the treaty on the same grounds that India put forward while opposing the NPT and the CTBT.
  • In 1974 India called for a total prohibition of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, as any such use would be a violation of the Charter of the UN and a crime against humanity.
  • In 1982 India proposed the following concrete programme of action:

(i) The Special Session on Disarmament should consider a binding convention on non-use of nuclear weapons;

(ii) as the first step towards eventual cutting of existing stockpiles, a freeze on nuclear weapons and a total stoppage of further production;

(iii) immediate suspension of all nuclear tests;

(iv) negotiations for achieving a Treaty on General and Complete Disarmament within an agreed time frame;

(v) UN to educate the public about the dangers of nuclear warfare.

  • In 1984 India along with Argentina, Greece, Mexico, Sweden, and Tanzania launched a Five continents Six-Nation Peace Initiative. This five continent initiative called on the nuclear weapon states to halt the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons and seek arms reduction leading to complete disarmament.
  • India is a signatory or party to the Geneva Protocol of 1925; the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963; Outer Space Treaty of 1967; the Sea Bed Treaty of 1971; the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972; the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993.
  • India’s approach towards any multilateral disarmament agreement stems from the basic consideration that only equal and non-discriminatory treaties make peace and relaxation of tension and will help to advance towards the goal of disarmament.


  • After the end of World War II, the world got involved in an armed race of producing nuclear weapons. To slow this malicious race, many arm control treaties such as SALT-1, SALT-2, LTBT, START-1, and START-2 were proposed and signed by several nations across the globe. Among such treaties was the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) – arguably most pivotal, global, and influential among all the mechanisms for international disarmament and nuclear non – proliferation.
  • The NPT was launched in 1958 by Frank Aiken, the then External affairs minister of Ireland. At the time the NPT was proposed there was a prediction that within the next two decades the world would have 25-30 nuclear weapon states. The NPT is based on a central bargain “The NPT non-nuclear states (states that did not possess nuclear weapons before 1968) agree never to acquire nuclear weapons and NPT nuclear states (states that possessed nuclear weapons before 1968) in exchange agrees to share the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology. The NPT consists of a Preamble and eleven articles.
  • The NPT was opened for signature in 1968 and enforced in 1970. So far 190 countries have joined the treaty; Finland was the first country to sign. The NPT recognizes five Nuclear Weapon states: USA, UK, USSR (Russia after the breakdown of the Soviet Union), France and China. Four UN member states never joined NPT: India, Pakistan, Israel, and South Sudan. North Korea accepted the treaty in 1985 but withdrew later in 2003.
  • Over the years the NPT has come to be seen by many Third World states as “a conspiracy of the nuclear ‘haves’ to keep the nuclear ‘have-nots’ in their place”. This argument has roots in Article VI of the treaty which “obligates the nuclear weapons states to liquidate their nuclear stockpiles and pursue complete disarmament. The non-nuclear states see no signs of this happening”. Some argue that the NWS has not fully complied with their disarmament obligations under Article VI of the NPT.
  • Some countries such as India have criticized the NPT, because it “discriminated against states not possessing nuclear weapons on January 1, 1967,” while Iran and numerous Arab states have criticized Israel for not signing the NPT. There has been disappointment with the limited progress on nuclear disarmament, where the five authorized nuclear weapons states still have 22,000 warheads between them and have shown a reluctance to disarm further.
  • India’s stand is based on the argument that the NPT is the last vestige of the apartheid in the international system and a clear manifestation of the global division of power, granting as it does to five countries the right to be nuclear-weapons states while denying the same right to others. If nuclear weapons are evil – and India agrees that they are – then no one should have them. What is the moral, ethical, or legal basis for suggesting that some can and others cannot? What virtue do the “official” nuclear powers possess that democratic India lacks?
  • The basic arguments which justify that International Disarmament and Non-nuclear proliferation regimes are the reflection of ‘global division of power’, mainly given by India are as follows:
  • It was a discriminatory treaty which tried to perpetuate the superior power position of nuclear weapon states vis-a-vis the non-nuclear nations.
  • It unduly tried to legitimize the power gap between nuclear and non-clear nations.
  • It did not provide for either disarmament or arms control in international relations.
  • It failed to check the N-programmes of France and China which, in violation of the Moscow Partial Test Ban Treaty, continued the policy of conducting nuclear tests.
  • NPT was really a political instrument of nuclear weapon states. It divided the states into nuclear haves and have-nots.
  • NPT was a discriminatory and inadequate Treaty

Also Read: Jayaprakash Narayan: Contribution in Pre and Post Independent India, And his Ideas


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