The executive secretary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) has offered India an ‘Observer’ status and access to state-of-art International Monitoring System (IMS) data.

About CTBT: 

  • The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is the Treaty banning all nuclear explosions – everywhere, by everyone. 
    • The Treaty was negotiated at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. It opened for signature on 24 September 1996.
    • It is a multilateral treaty that bans all nuclear explosions, for both civilian and military purposes, in all environments. 
  • China, Egypt, Iran, Israel and the United States have signed but not ratified the Treaty.  
    • India, North Korea & Pakistan have not signed it. They have neither signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty 1968. 
    • Although more than 180 countries have signed the CTBT, and mostly ratified it, the treaty can only enter into force after it is ratified by eight countries with nuclear technology capacity, namely China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States.
  • According to CTBT each State Party undertakes not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion, and to prohibit and prevent any such nuclear explosion at any place under its jurisdiction or control.
  • CTBTO runs the International Monitoring System (IMS) that constantly monitors the planet for nuclear explosions and shares findings with its member states. At present, IMS has 337 facilities, located in 89 countries.
  • Benefits of having access to International Monitoring System (IMS) data: India will gain a lot with data necessary for earthquake monitoring and following the radioisotope dispersion.

Why has India not joined CTBT?

  • India’s principled opposition drew from its emphasis on universal and complete nuclear disarmament in a time-bound manner. 
  • Exacerbating technology differences between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots.: For instance, one of India’s concerns was the possibility of those already possessing nuclear weapons upgrading their arsenals through sub-critical and laboratory simulated testing.
  • Another major concern was Article XIV, the entry-into-force (EIF) clause, which India considered a violation of its right to voluntarily withhold participation in an international treaty. 
    • The treaty initially made ratification by states that were to be a part of the the CTBT’s International Monitoring System (IMS) mandatory for the treaty’s EIF. Because of this, India withdrew its participation from the IMS.
  • CTBT would hinder India’s strategic nuclear program development and the option to test must be kept open.