nuclear-arms-race

CONTEXT

Mixed signals emerging in 2022 reflected the challenge in dealing with rising nuclear risks in an increasingly polarised world.The leaders of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States have issued a combined statement for preventing nuclear war and avoiding armed races

GROWING TENSIONS

  • Multipolar world:The old arms control model was a product of a bipolar world. The real challenge is creating a new model to deal with rising nuclear risks in a multipolar world
  • Actions of nuclear power states: The recent statements and actions by the US, Russia and Chinese leaders indicate growing tensions and beginning of new nuclear arms race with rapidly receding prospects of any arms control.
    • Chinese missile tests:China’s recently reported tests of a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in July and August, though officially denied, are threatening to undermine strategic nuclear stability.
    • Report by the US State Department on China: it warned that the rapid buildup of the PRC’s nuclear arsenal is concerning and threatens international security and stability.
  • Lack of a sense of commitment to nuclear disarmament: even the Recent commitment by the nuclear power state seems to be at odds with ground reality with four other states (India , Israel, North Korea and Pakistan) possessing nuclear arms missing.
  • Concerns regarding arms control treaties: The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) has not come into force after 25 years, NPT is already under strain because of the other four states not being a a party to it as NPT only recognises a nuclear-weapon State if it exploded a bomb before January 1, 1967.
    • The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the US and Russia are already history. Both countries have exited from the Open Skies Treaty.

NUCLEAR NON PROLIFERATION TREATY 

  • Signatories to the treaty:The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), was signed in July 1968, by UK, USA, former USSR, and 59 other states.
    • As of 2007 only four countries, India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea are not signatories.
    • North Korea has signed and then withdrawn from the treaty. 
  • Timeframe:It has been extended indefinitely and without conditions in 1995 by a consensus vote of 174 at the UN headquarters.
  • Aim:Its main aim is to limit the spread of nuclear weapons including three elements:
    • non-proliferation
    • disarmament
    • peaceful use of nuclear energy.
  • What does it permit?
    • These elements constitute a “grand bargain” between nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states.
    • It does not restrict nuclear states to help non nuclear states in the development of civilian nuclear power.

NPT, AUKUS & Nuclear arms race

  • About AUKUS: USA and its allies are making all efforts including the supply of nuclear submarines (subs) to Australia to contain Chinese military and economic influence especially in the Indo Pacific region.
    • The creation of an enhanced trilateral security partnership is called AUKUS, the important part of the agreement is to help Australia to acquire 8 nuclear powered subs.
  • Distinction between civilian and military technology:Since, it is difficult to distinguish between civilian and military nuclear technology. Probably under this pretext the USA / UK are now supplying reactors of nuclear propelled subs (SSNs) to Australia.
  • Repercussions for other countries:It is likely that China and other countries having nuclear technology would help the other Indo – Pacific countries to build nuclear subs.
    • Thus, the nuclear arms race would get impetuous and quite a large number of nuclear subs would become operative.

INDIA’S NUCLEAR DOCTRINE

  • 3 principles of India’s nuclear regime:
    • Doctrine of minimum deterrence
    • No first use posture
    • Non use of nuclear weapons against non nuclear weapon states
  • Responsible nuclear state: India remains committed to the goal of universal, non discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament.
  • International peace & security: Indian resolution at United Nations General assembly (UNGA)stands for steps to reduce risk of unintentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons and the national security objective of India is to contribute towards global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agenda

CONCLUSION

  • Confidence building measures:modest confidence-building measures designed to increase predictability, reciprocity and trust should be undertaken.
    • These could include  measures like a notification system for ballistic-missile tests, joint technical assessments of missile-defence capabilities etc
  • Even in the depths of the Cold War, the US and the Soviet Union managed to establish real safeguards and limits on nuclear arms. They had good reasons for cooperating. Both had experienced the harrowing weeks of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the world came perilously close to catastrophe. Today, the US and China—and the world—cannot afford to wait for another such crisis before taking similar precautions.

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