Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

GS-2 Mains : IR 

Revision Notes 

Question : Examine the significance of nuclear disarmament efforts in promoting global peace and security, with reference to key treaties such as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). How do these treaties contribute to the goal of eliminating the threat posed by nuclear weapons?

 Disarmament refers to the act of eliminating or abolishing weapons, particularly weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). It can involve either reducing the number of arms or eliminating entire categories of weapons.

Nuclear Disarmament

  • Nuclear-Weapon States: There are nine countries recognized as possessing nuclear weapons: United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel.
  • Treaties:
    • Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) (1968): Aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and promote disarmament. It divides countries into nuclear-weapon states (NWS) and non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS).
    • Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) (2017): Prohibits the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use, and threat of use of nuclear weapons. Not signed by nuclear-armed states.
    • Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) (1996): Bans all nuclear explosions for military and civilian purposes. Not yet in force as some nuclear-armed states haven’t ratified it.
    • Outer Space Treaty (1967): Bans the siting of weapons of mass destruction in space.

Chemical Disarmament

  • Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) (1993): Bans chemical weapons and requires their destruction. Implemented by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Biological Disarmament

  • Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) (1972): Prohibits the development, production, acquisition, transfer, stockpiling, and use of biological and toxin weapons.

Arguments for Disarmament

  • Humanitarian Concerns: Prevents immense loss of life, devastation, and environmental damage.
  • Global Security: Reduces the likelihood of accidental or intentional use of WMDs.
  • Economic Benefits: Frees up resources for more constructive purposes.
  • Ethical and Moral Imperatives: Eliminating WMDs is a step towards a more peaceful world.
  • Environmental Protection: Prevents pollution from weapons testing and use.

Arguments Against Disarmament

  • Deterrence: Possession of WMDs deters potential adversaries and maintains stability.
  • National Security: Provides insurance against threats and enhances a country’s ability to protect itself.
  • Verification and Compliance: Concerns exist about the effectiveness of monitoring and enforcing disarmament agreements.
  • Geopolitical Realities: Deep-rooted mistrust and unresolved conflicts make complete disarmament challenging.

Way Ahead

  • Disarmament is crucial for reducing risks and promoting international peace and stability.
  • Incremental progress can be made through international cooperation.
  • Sustained commitment is required from all nations to achieve a world free of WMDs.

India’s Nuclear Program

  • Smiling Buddha (1974) and Operation Shakti (1998): India’s nuclear tests that established it as a nuclear power.
  • International Criticism: The tests were criticized by the international community, particularly the US and its allies.
  • No First Use Policy: India pledges not to use nuclear weapons first in a conflict.

India’s Stance on Disarmament

  • Universal Disarmament: India believes all countries should eliminate nuclear weapons.
  • Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT): India criticizes the NPT for being discriminatory and unfair to non-nuclear states.
  • National Security: India views its nuclear program as essential for national security.
  • Complex Policy: India’s approach balances security concerns with a commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation.


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