Sunday, October 12, 2008

What is Nuclear Non – Proliferation?

What is really meant by Nuclear Non – Proliferation? In simple explanation, those countries who have accepted the Non – Proliferation Treaty, have accepted the right of a few powers to have and develop their nuclear weapons. On the other hand, the nations that have the view that, nuclear weapons contribute defence of the last resort, believe in the norm of nuclear proliferation. In reality, the majority of the nations of the world have had no say in evolving nuclear norms since this technology was almost unknown to them.
If nuclear Non – Proliferation is the international norm, it is these powers who have conveniently exempted themselves from all inspections and they allow all technology transfer among themselves. Even to-day, the five major nuclear powers do not commit themselves to the ultimate goal of a world that will be free of nuclear weapons. These nations advocate capping of all the non nuclear nations to prevent them from developing their know how and capability. In the comity of nations if some nations continue to keep their weapon laboratories and do not allow any inspection of the same, and also continue to go ahead with their researches in the subject, how can non-proliferation ever become a yardstick or a norm? if the non – nuclear countries are to accept capping their nuclear projects, all the nuclear powers should also be brought under international scrutiny. These double standards in the nuclear race cannot hold for long to any sense of common and natural justice. It is against all norms of natural justice that, the big powers continue to delve in their nuclear projects and the same five powers continue to ask the other nations to stop it all forthwith.
If non-proliferation is to be the norm then why is the united States promoting proliferation of British nuclear missiles? Today if the agreement between United States and Russia was to be implemented a number of weapons with most of the powers will be found to be many times more than what they were when the NPT was signed. Is this how the world is expected to observe the non-proliferation norms?
It is this discrimination among powers of the world which India has been strongly opposed to. India’s view is quite in line with laws of natural justice for India says that, either all powers big and small destroy all their nuclear weapons and simultaneously also stop all work on it, or, all powers, big or small should be allowed to grow into nuclear powers. On the face of it, India’s view is absolutely logical and in all fairness but, the brother the United States of America has been urging India to sign the Nuclear Non – Proliferation Treaty – (NPT). India however feels that elimination of nuclear armaments is a global problem and not just a regional problem. India has been producing plutonium from the mid sixties which means that, India has been having access to weapons material for quite a long time.
If India is not willing to sign the NPT, the United States suggests that, India and Pakistan should hold bi-lateral talks on the nuclear problem and find a solution. The United States has also suggested a Conference of five nations i.e. India, Pakistan, United States, Russia and China. To this suggestion, the response of China was that, it would be willing to participate in the said Conference only if its own arsenal would not be a topic of discussion. On the other hand, India feels that, apart from Pakistan it has to take serious note of the highly developed nuclear arsenal of China. However, besides India and Pakistan, there are more nuclear powers in the Asia – Pacific region, for instance Israel has a nuclear arsenal, North Korea has plutonium production reactor, Japan and South Korea can develop nuclear weapons if they so desire. In general the list of such countries would include Germany, Canada, Italy, Sweden Spain etc., Thus in order to make such a Conference a reality a large number of countries would have to be included, some nuclear states, some nuclear capable states which not have signed the NPT, and also some states that have signed the NPT, but can develop nuclear weapons fairly well.
In this process the initiative was taken by Rajiv Gandhi who foresaw a time bound elimination of all nuclear weapons. However though our ultimate target has to be total elimination of all nuclear weapons we have to prepare a long term plan in the time table. In reality, the United States does not foresee elimination of all nuclear weapons in the near future so, in these circumstances we expect other nuclear weapons States and nuclear weapon capable states also to retain their weapons.
Though the non – proliferation seems to be a distant dream, there are certain elements which may be agreed upon by most countries. Firstly, the Comprehensive and universal test ban, secondly an agreement on ‘non – use’ of nuclear weapons, and thirdly transfer of nuclear technology should be subject to peaceful use provision.
Seeing the Yugoslav situation, the Gulf War, and a lot of other turmoil all over the world the talk of ‘one world’ appears to be quite a misnomer. In such a situation, India can not be expected to dismantle its nuclear capability that has been built up in the span of the last forty years, and that also at the behest of the big brother, the United States wants it to be so. India on the contrary must maintain and also develop its nuclear capability and nurture high technologies. Lessons to be learnt from nuclear energy are of vital importance for developing self reliance, that cannot be overlooked in the hope of much talked of globalization.

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