Here’s what we are going the explain in this writeup:

  • The Backstory
  • What is the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)?
  • What does India need to do to get in?
  • Does joining the MTCR make getting missile technology easier?
  • Does the MTCR actually stop the spread of missile technology?
  • Are there any sanctions for breaking MTCR rules?
  • Does the MTCR actually stop the spread of missile technology?
  • Why does India want to be in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)?
  • Why does the US want India in the NSG?
  • Why doesn’t Pakistan want India in?
  • And what is China’s problem?
  • Why then did China go along with the NSG waiver in 2008?
  • Why does India want to join Proliferation control regimes?
  • Why is India’s Bid for NSG being criticized?


The Backstory

  • Since 2008, India has been pushing forward to become an NSG member, where decisions are consensus based and not based on majority votes
  • It has also been looking for membership of other groups such as MTCR
  • India recently became the Member of MTCR, however its bid for getting membership of NSG was not successful because of opposition from China and 12 other NSG members

#1. All about MTCR

What is the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)?

Established in April 1987, it is a voluntary association of 35 countries and 4 “unilateral adherents” that follow its rules: Israel, Romania, Slovakia, Macedonia.

The group aims to slow the spread of missiles and other unmanned delivery technology that could be used for chemical, biological and nuclear attacks.

The regime urges members, which include most of the world’s major missile manufacturers, to restrict exports of missiles and related technologies capable of carrying a 500 kg payload at least 300 km, or delivering any type of weapon of mass destruction.

How does one become a member of MTCR?

  • Prospective members must win consensus approval from existing members. United States policy had been that members that are not recognised nuclear-weapon states — including India — must eliminate or forgo ballistic missiles able to deliver a 500 kg payload at least 300 km
  • The US, however, made an exception in 1998 for Ukraine, permitting it to retain Scud missiles and, in October 2012, South Korea was allowed to keep ballistic missiles with an 800-km range and 500-kg payload that could target all of North Korea
  • For India, the US have waived these terms, allowing it retain its missile arsenal

Does joining the MTCR make getting missile technology easier?

  • There are no special concessions for MTCR members. But India hopes its MTCR membership will be one more reason for the US to consider exporting Category 1 UAVs, Reaper and Global Hawk, which have been key to counter-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen
  • These drones have so far been sold to only one country, the UK, though unarmed versions have also been made available to Italy and South Korea
  • The US has been rethinking rules on exports, aware that competitors in Israel, Russia and China are working on similar products — and India wants to be at the head of the queue when the Reaper and the Global Hawk go on the market

Are there any sanctions for breaking MTCR rules?

  • Rule breakers can’t be punished.
  • However, US law mandates sanctions for companies and governments that export MTCR-controlled items. The sanctioned entity can’t sign contracts, buy arms and receive aid for two years or more.

Does the MTCR actually stop the spread of missile technology?

  • Yes and no. North Korea, Iran and Pakistan acquired ballistic missile technology from China. But then, China began to feel the pinch of US technology sanctions — and announced, in November 2000, that it would stop exporting ballistic missile technology.
  • Four years later, it applied for MTCR membership — but has been denied entry because of suspicion that some companies in the country are secretly supplying technology to North Korea.
  • Many others dropped missile programmes because of MTCR pressure: Argentina abandoned its Condor II ballistic missile programme (on which it was working with Egypt and Iraq) to join the regime. Brazil, South Africa, South Korea and Taiwan shelved or eliminated missile or space launch vehicle programmes. Poland and the Czech Republic destroyed their ballistic missiles.

It is possible China may now seek some kind of bargain, whereby it is given entry to the MTCR in return for letting India get into the NSG, where it wields a veto.

What after MTCR?

  • Admission to the MTCR would open the way for India to buy high-end missile technology
  • It will also make India’s aspiration to buy state-of-the-art surveillance drones such as the U.S. Predator, made by General Atomics.

#2. All about NSG

Why does India want to be in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)?

Following India’s 1974 nuclear tests, the US pushed for setting up a club of nuclear equipment and fissile material suppliers.

The 48-nation group frames and implements agreed rules for exporting nuclear equipment, with a view to controlling the spread of nuclear weapons; members are admitted only by consensus.

India has been trying, since 2008, to join the group, which would give it a place at the high table where the rules of nuclear commerce are decided — and, eventually, the ability to sell equipment.

Many countries that initially opposed its entry, like Australia, have changed stance; Mexico and Switzerland are the latest to voice support. India’s effort has been to chip away at the resistance, leaving only one holdout — China. But until China accepts India’s entry, there is no hope of membership.

Why does the US want India in the NSG?

The answer lies in the US effort to strengthen the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, whose centrepiece is the 1968 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, or NPT.

The NPT defines “nuclear weapons states” as those that tested devices before January 1, 1967 — which means India cannot ever be one.

India — like Israel and Pakistan — thus refused to sign the treaty. From 2005, though, President George W Bush’s administration sought ways to deepen strategic cooperation with India.

Nuclear energy was a key means to strengthen cooperation, but since India wasn’t a member of the NPT, technology couldn’t be shared. Then, a way forward was found — the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement.

India agreed to separate its civilian and military nuclear programmes, and put the civilian part under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.

India also changed its export laws to line up with the NSG, MTCR, Wassenaar Arrangement, and Australia Group — the 4 key nuclear control regimes.

The US agreed to shepherd India’s entry into these regimes, which meant India would for all practical purposes be treated like an NPT member, even though it wasn’t one.

Why doesn’t Pakistan want India in?

The Pakistani argument is that giving India easy access to fissile material and technology for its civilian nuclear programme means it would have that much more material for its military nuclear programme.

Thus, Pakistan says, the move to give India NSG membership is fuelling a nuclear arms race.

But this argument falls apart because Pakistan is resolutely opposed to a key international agreement called the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT), which would cap the military nuclear stockpiles of all countries. The FMCT ought to put an end to Pakistan’s fears, but Islamabad has refused to sign.

Why has China opposed India’s Bid for NSG?

Chinese diplomats say Beijing wants NSG entry to be norm-based , in other words, whatever rules govern Indian entry should apply to others too.

Norm-based entry would, presumably, help Pakistan gain entry, something many in the NSG are certain to resist because of the country’s record as a proliferator of nuclear-weapons technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Why then did China go along with the NSG waiver in 2008?


The 2008 one-time waiver allowed nuclear commerce between NSG members and India — the agreement that now allows Westinghouse, and its competitors in France or South Korea, to bid to set up civilian reactors in India.

The waiver came only after President Bush rang President Hu Jintao and called in a favour. Back then, US-China relations were riding high — on the back of surging trade, and a common vision of how the international order should be structured.

Today, President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping are at odds over Chinese muscle-flexing in the South China Sea. The odds of a phone call changing the state of play are next to zero.

Why does India want to join Proliferation control regimes?

  • India’s membership of the NSG and other proliferation control regimes notably the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australia Group, and the Wassenaar Arrangement is important in order to shatter the myth of it being an “outlier” to the non-proliferation regime as also to facilitate its trade, both imports and exports, of nuclear, missile and other related sensitive technologies.
  • Membership of these regimes will enhance India’s status in this critical area from merely an adherent to a rule maker.
  • It will also enable India to ensure that these regimes perform their mandated role of promoting non-proliferation effectively and not hurt its commercial interests.

Why India’s recent NSG bid is being criticized?

  • Many experts believe that after the clean waiver of 2008 and the 2011 amendment of the NSG rules (that non-NPT countries would not be entitled to the transfer of the reprocessing and enrichment technology), there is not much merit in seeking a membership of the NSG.
  • The worst outcome of this aggressive bidding was that at NSG forum India’s nuclear regime got hyphenated with Pakistan. It has taken a great deal of effort on the part of successive governments in India to kill the idea of that hyphenation.
  • It suits China ideally to put India in the same bracket as Pakistan. However for India it is diminishing to get itself compared with rogue state like Pakistan who have a dismal track record with respect to Nuclear Proliferation.


Any doubts?

  1. Profile photo of Root Root

    Updated with CD Explains + Questions

  2. Profile photo of Er S Er S

    Ans to Q3 : Mods + Dr. V. Request to kindly point out more points that can be incorporated.

    India was branded as an ‘outlier’ when it was given a waiver to trade with the NSG countries despite being a non-NPT state. Since then India has been trying to get rid of the tag.
    According to India, its commitment to disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation has been impeccable. India was at the forefront of discussions which led to the NPT. However it refused to sign as it considered its terms, most prominently the distinctions between nuclear haves and havenots, unjust and unequal. India then went ahead with its first nuclear test Pokhran 1. This development didn’t work well for its international relations. India justified itself by accusing China of acquiring nuclear capabilities and threatening to use it against India. Nehru himself accepted that India was surrounded by a hostile environment and hence couldnt depend on others for its security. Pokhran 2 had similar response from the intl community.
    The international community has blamed India for starting a nuclear arms race in the region which eventually led to pakistan acquiring nuclear weapons. The NSG was created as a response to Pokhran 1 to keep India out of international nuclear trade. However India’s Nuclear Policy of ’No first use’ and adhering to the norms setup by international regimes without being a member have been well appreciated across the globe. This was one of the main reasons it became easier for US to push for a waiver in NSG.
    NSG membership should not be hard to come by if India uses its diplomacy well. At present it faces opposition from China which has become more powerful and assertive in the international arena. As Suhasini Haider points out, its important to keep pushing for the agenda and a setback in the vienna session should not discourage India from being hopeful in the upcoming Mexico meet in december. Backdoor diplomacy should be explored as it has yielded good results in the past.

    1. Profile photo of Suvendu Guria Suvendu Guria

      India conducted nuclear tests on 11th and 13 May of year 1998. After few days on 28th and 30th May, 1998 Pakistan conducted nuclear tests. Still India will be blamed because of Pakistan’s acquiring of nuclear weapon! Even though a nuclear test needs huge time to conduct. It’s not possible within 2 weeks of time.

    2. Profile photo of Focus Ias Focus Ias

      Good attempt and fine flow. Will you/ Can we use names of journalists in the answer attempts?

      1. Profile photo of Er S Er S

        it adds weight to sentences that are obvious.

  3. Profile photo of Root Root

    CD Explains updated.

  4. Profile photo of NANDINI Nandini NANDINI Nandini

    current awerness

  5. Profile photo of eswara babu eswara babu

    Does India get advantage in getting UNSC membership with MTCR (membership)? Please clarify doubt

    1. Profile photo of Shikhar Sachan Shikhar Sachan

      Yes. There is no hard and fast rule that one has to be a member of MTCR for a Permanent Seat at the UN. But it increases your credibility as a leader and believer of non-proliferation. In that sense – it makes your case stronger.

  6. Profile photo of eswara babu eswara babu

    India by becoming member of MTCR, does be allowed to develop Agni, Prithvi etc missiles? Please clear doubt

  7. Profile photo of tahir fazal tahir fazal

    to the CD team, in view of NSG & MTCR kindly cover Australia Group & Wassenaar Arrangement. Question had come in 2011 Pre on these export control regimes. & also the 3 associated treaties – NPT, CTBT, FMCT. Thanks.

    1. Profile photo of Root Root

      All of these have been covered by Dr. V at the forum. Refer to the tag of Prelims tit bits there.

  8. Profile photo of S Giri S Giri

    What is e governance?

  9. Profile photo of S Giri S Giri

    What is NSG and membership countries in?

    1. Profile photo of Er S Er S

      The exact clauses of these groupings can be hard to follow. All you need to remember is that there are 4 export control regimes – NSG, MTCR, AG, WA of which India wants to be a part. NSG coordinates export controls on items which can be used to build nuclear weapons(directly and indirectly). Similarly others have clauses referring to other destructive materials. NSG is a 48 member body as given in this page.

[op-ed snap] The arc to Tokyo


Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

From UPSC perspective following things are important:

Prelims level: Basics of Nuclear Technology

Mains level: In the Article, writer talks about the relevance of Nuclear technology in the current scenario. And gives some facts to prove how Civil Nuclear Technology is not as fruitful as it was earlier.



  1. The Article is about the India-Japan civil nuclear energy deal

Why in News?

  1. After seven years of negotiations, Japan’s Parliament has approved the civil nuclear pact
  2. The agreement is set to take effect in early July

Why are opposition parties against this deal?

  1. According to opposition parties, Indian government has provided insufficient guarantees for Japan’s right to terminate the agreement in the event of India conducting a nuclear test

Why is this deal a necessity for India?

  1. It will enable India’s bilateral nuclear deals with other countries
  2. Japan has a near monopoly on key elements of certain reactors like the AP 1000 and EPR, including safety components and domes

Circumstances are changing in the nuclear industry

  1. Recent developments have diminished Japan’s nuclear capabilities
  2. For example, Toshiba is currently struggling after the enormous losses and eventual bankruptcy of its U.S. nuclear unit, Westinghouse Electric
  3. Toshiba declared a net loss of $9.9 billion for the fiscal year that ended on March 31
  4. Another example, Hitachi Ltd. also booked ‘an estimated ¥65 billion ($588 million) write-down for fiscal 2016
  5. Also,  Japan’s third major, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, is in trouble too. Its French partner, Areva, is going through a bad phase(due to losses)

Other Factors

  1. After the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the nuclear industry is facing a global crisis
  2. Stricter safety regulations have drastically increased the costs of constructing plants and therefore some countries have become more cautious about new reactors
  3. For example, Germany has decided to pull out of nuclear power altogether by 2022
  4. Also, in Japan there has been no domestic construction on a new reactor for the past eight years

View of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

  1. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the emergence of cheap shale oil and gas has made competition in the energy sector tougher than ever, while wind and solar power generation are also growing as viable, alternative energy sources
  2. As, just three nuclear reactors started construction worldwide last year
  3. But still, the IAEA is expecting global nuclear demand to grow, until at least 2030
  4. Although it thinks the increase could be just 1.9% over the whole period

India as a opportunity for Japan’s nuclear industry

  1. A recent Observer Research Institute study concludes that India’s installed nuclear power capacity may to rise to 40-50 gigawatts (GW) by mid-century(from its current installed 5.78 GW capacity)
  2. For Japan’s nuclear industry this is a great opportunity

Cabinet gives nod for 10 indigenous nuclear reactors



Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

Important news as India is trying to move away from conventional sources of energy and developing cleaner technologies in order to fulfil its pledges on climate change.
From UPSC perspective, following things are important:
Prelims level: What are different kind of nuclear reactors, locations of nuclear power plants in India, new projects and technologies.
Mains level: Indigenisation of technology, Make in India, Climate change initiatives and other related topics.


  1. The Union Cabinet cleared the proposal to construct 10 indigenous pressurised heavy water nuclear reactors with a total capacity of 7,000 MWe
  2. Each of the reactors would have a capacity of 700 MWe


  1. The decision comes against the backdrop of recent troubles for India’s international collaborations in nuclear projects
  2. While the U.S. deal, involving Toshiba Westinghouse for six reactors in Andhra Pradesh, is floundering after Westinghouse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the deal with French company Areva for reactors in Jaitapur remain mired in negotiations over costing


  1. These 10 plants would create Rs. 70,000 crore worth of business for domestic manufacturers and generate about 33,400 jobs
  2. The approval shows government’s strong belief in the capability of India’s scientific community to build our technological capacities

(Relate these points to Make in India as well as other similar initiatives- indigenisation etc.)

Rapid advances by India

  1. The design and development of this project is a testament to the rapid advances achieved by India’s nuclear scientific community and industry
  2. It underscores the mastery our nuclear scientists have attained over all aspects of indigenous PHWR technology
  3. The 10 reactors will be part of India’s latest design of 700 MWe PHWR fleet with state-of-the-art technology meeting the highest standards of safety


  1. A Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) is a nuclear power reactor, commonly using unenriched natural uranium as its fuel, that uses heavy water (deuterium oxide D2O) as its coolant and moderator
  2. The heavy water coolant is kept under pressure, allowing it to be heated to higher temperatures without boiling, much as in a typical pressurized water reactor
  3. While heavy water is significantly more expensive than ordinary light water, it yields greatly enhanced neutron economy, allowing the reactor to operate without fuel enrichment facilities (mitigating the additional capital cost of the heavy water) and generally enhancing the ability of the reactor to efficiently make use of alternate fuel cycles
  4. India has this facility in – Tarapur , Rajasthan (with 2 more under construction), Madras, Narora, Kakrapar, Kaiga nuclear power plants

U.S. moves THAAD anti-missile to South Korean site, sparks protests

  1. The U.S. military started moving parts of an anti-missile defence system to a deployment site in South Korea amid tension over North Korea’s weapons development
  2. It has triggered protests from villagers and criticism from China
  3. The earlier-than-expected steps to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system was also denounced by the frontrunner in South Korea’s presidential election on May 9, 2017
  4. THAAD diplomacy: South Korea and the United States have been working to secure an early operational capability of the THAAD system in response to North Korea’s advancing nuclear and missile threat
  5. The United States and South Korea agreed in 2016 to deploy the THAAD to counter the threat of missile launches by North Korea. They say it is solely aimed at defending against North Korea
  6. But China says the system’s advanced radar can penetrate deep into its territory and undermine its security, while it will do little to deter the North, and is adamant in its opposition
  7. China strongly urges the United States and South Korea to stop actions that worsen regional tensions and harm China’s strategic security interests and cancel the deployment of the THAAD system and withdraw the equipment
  8. China is North Korea’s sole major ally and is seen as crucial to U.S.-led efforts to rein in its bellicose, isolated neighbour
    The United States began moving the first elements of the system to South Korea in March after the North tested four ballistic missiles
  9. South Korea has accused China of discriminating against some South Korean companies operating in China because of the deployment
  10. N Korea vs USA: The United States and North Korea have been stepping up warnings to each other in recent weeks over North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and missiles in defiance of U.N. resolutions
  11. North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat is perhaps the most serious security challenge confronting U.S. President Donald Trump
  12. He has vowed to prevent North Korea from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile
  13. North Korea: Needs the weapons to defend itself and has vowed to strike the United States and its Asian allies at the first sign of any attack on it
  14. The United States is sending the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to waters off the Korean peninsula, where it will join the USS Michigan, a nuclear submarine that docked in South Korea on Tuesday. South Korea’s navy has said it will hold drills with the U.S. strike group


THAAD- important for prelims. The issue as a whole, conflict in Korean peninsula, its spill over effects and global security implications- for mains.

All you need to know about US’s Mother of All Bombs

Context: The United States on April 13, 2017, dropped a massive GBU-43 bomb in eastern Afghanistan against a series of caves used by Islamic State militants

What is the GBU-43 bomb?

  1. The Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB) also known as the ‘mother of all bombs’ is the largest non-nuclear bomb ever deployed in combat by the United States
  2. The GBU-43 is a 21,600 pound (9,797 kg) GPS-guided munition and was first tested in March 2003, just days before the start of the Iraq war
  3. It is a demolition bomb containing 18,700 pounds (8,480 kilogrammes) of the explosive H6, with a blast yield equivalent to 11 tonns of TNT
  4. Nine metres (30 feet) long, with a diameter of one metre, it is the largest-ever satellite-guided, air-delivered weapon in history

What was the MOAB designed for?

  1. The MOAB is a custom-made Air Force weapon that has been in the arsenal for more than a decade
  2. It is designed to hit softer targets such as surface facilities, tunnel entrances and troop concentrations
  3. It is a concussive bomb, meaning it is designed to detonate before it hits the ground
  4. Its thin aluminium skin helps to maximise its blast radius and generate a shockwave

How is the MOAB deployed?

  1. The MOAB is dropped off from the cargo ramp of a C-130 transport plane with its descent slowed by parachute
  2. This means it can be deployed from a greater height, thereby offering pilots more time to reach safety

What is the Pentagon’s view on the MOAB?

  1. In the Pentagon’s 2003 review of the legality of using the MOAB, it was concluded that it could not be called an indiscriminate killer under the Law of Armed Conflict
  2. Although the MOAB weapon leaves a large footprint, it is discriminate and requires a deliberate launching toward the target
  3. It is expected that the weapon will have a substantial psychological effect on those who witness its use

Who made the bomb?

  1. The MOAB was developed in 2002-2003 by Alabama-based aerospace and defence company Dynetics in partnership with the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL)
  2. The bomb’s preliminary concept was developed into a detailed design within just three months, and successfully tested three times in 13 days
  3. According to the Air Force, the last time the MOAB was tested in 2003, a huge mushroom cloud could be seen from 32 km away


Prelims trivia.

Russia’s ‘Father Of All Bombs’, the most powerful non-nuclear weapon known

  1. Context: The U.S. on April 13, 2017 dropped its biggest non-nuclear device, the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB, hence the nickname the Mother Of All Bombs) on Islamic State targets in Afghanistan
  2. First tested in 2003, the bomb unleashes destructive power equivalent to 11 tonnes of TNT
  3. But, it’s not the most powerful bomb in the world
  4. Russia has a Father Of All Bombs, a far more destructive device

What is the Father Of All Bombs?

  1. Officially the Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power, the ordnance is four times more powerful than the U.S. weapon
  2. Unlike the MOAB, which uses conventional ordnance, the FOAB aka “Big Daddy” is Thermobaric — meant to burn its targets
  3. It uses oxygen from the atmosphere, rather than carrying an oxidising agent in its explosives
  4. It produces more energy than normal weapons but is harder to control
  5. According to the Russian military the FOAB is equivalent to 44 tonnes of TNT compared to the U.S. device’s 11 tonnes

How does it work?

  1. Such devices generally detonate in two stages
  2. First a small blast disperses a main load of explosive material into a cloud, which then either spontaneously ignites in air or is set off by a second charge
  3. This explosion generates a pressure wave that reaches much further than that from a conventional explosive
  4. The consumption of gases in the blast also generates a partial vacuum that can compound damage and injuries caused by the explosion itself.
  5. The main destruction is inflicted by an ultrasonic shockwave and an incredibly high temperature
  6. All that is alive merely evaporates

When was it tested?

  1. It was first tested on September 11, 2007. Russia’s military said the aviation vacuum bomb, also known as a fuel-air bomb, was the mightiest ever created

What was the background to Russia’s announcement of the FOAB?

  1. Russia’s announcement of the bomb came at a time of growing tension between Moscow and the West, and followed a tumultuous eight months in which Vladimir Putin denounced U.S. power, torn up a conventional arms agreement with NATO, and grabbed a large, if symbolic, chunk of the Arctic


Prelims trivia.

[op-ed snap] Tensions in Korean peninsula: Cool minds


  1. With tensions in the Korean peninsula continuing to escalate, Beijing took the rather extreme step on Friday of warning that something needs to be done to wind down the U.S.-North Korea confrontation, saying the “the storm is about to break”
  2. The heightened rhetoric of recent days follows Washington’s display of naval power with the despatch of a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group to the waters off the Korean coast

U.S. stand:

  1. Though U.S. officials described the move as merely cautionary, President Donald Trump, who has made North Korea a key foreign policy concern of his administration, used the word “armada” somewhat ominously
  2. For their part, the North Koreans have threatened nuclear retaliation in the event of any attack
  3. In late March, the U.S. had commenced installation of the so-called Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea in response to missile tests by the North
  4. The agreement, in the works since last year, has already increased regional tensions, entangling China as well
  5. Washington and Seoul have emphasised that intercepting the North’s advanced development of inter-continental ballistic missiles was the real objective behind the new system
  6. But apprehensive that its own nuclear infrastructure would be inevitably exposed to snooping by the THAAD radar, Beijing has sought to counter Seoul with trade and tourism boycotts

What needs to be done:

  1. Merely stressing the need for a peaceful resolution to the conflict is not enough
  2. Japan, Washington’s important regional ally, would view with no less consternation any potential threat to stability in its neighbourhood


  1. American air strikes in Syria last week have raised very valid concerns about their legitimacy under international law
  2. But they also indicate that the Trump administration may be shifting politically from a populist-driven isolationism to more conventional interventionism

Chinese angle:

  1. Trump’s threat of unilateral action against Pyongyang in the event that China fails to rein in North Korea may partly echo the mood in Washington after the recent missile strikes in Syria
  2. If the Chinese government views Pyongyang’s growing nuclear capability with concern, as it professes to, then it must do much to use its leverage effectively
  3. His latest observations on China point to a shift from open confrontation to a possible constructive engagement
  4. Notable here, for instance, is a willingness to eschew the previous rhetoric on China as a currency manipulator
  5. Against this emerging backdrop, a return to a reasoned and nuanced approach on North Korea would be a most positive development in these volatile times
  6. That would, however, require a spectacular roll-back by Pyongyang of its current nuclear capability, which includes long-range missiles that can reach targets in the Pacific
  7. As well as sustained cooperation between China and the U.S., it is time for cooler minds to weigh in — there is nothing to be gained by aggressively staring down adversaries


Read this op-ed to understand conflict in Korean Peninsula and the way forward on it.

[op-ed snap] Ending nuclear lawlessness


  1. At the United Nations in New York, history was made as diplomats from about 130 countries started formal talks on an international treaty to ban nuclear weapons
  2. The goal is simple: declare it illegal for any country to produce, possess, stockpile, deploy, threaten to use, or use nuclear weapons
  3. The final treaty could be approved and ready for signature before the end of this year

Division of opinion:

  1. Not surprisingly, none of the nine nuclear weapon countries showed up, India and Pakistan included
  2. Numbers are not on the side of the nuclear weapons states, however
  3. The U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, staged a public boycott outside the negotiating hall but managed to rally only a ragtag band of about 20 diplomats, mostly from Eastern Europe

U.S. Ambassador:

  1. Haley claimed that, as a mother, “there is nothing that I want more for my family than a world with no nuclear weapons” but she insisted that as an American “to ban nuclear weapons now would make us and our allies more vulnerable”
  2. Clearly, however, she was not willing to accord the same protection to all countries
  3. Ironically, it took an Indian Ambassador to inadvertently puncture this claim to nuclear privilege: “The language of privilege and entitlement has no place in today’s world”

Background of these talks:

  1. The nuclear weapons ban talks are the fulfilment of a long-standing demand that all countries deserve equal security
  2. For decades, the world has pressed the handful of countries with nuclear weapons to free humanity from the nuclear danger
  3. The very first resolution at the UN, passed in 1946, called for a plan “for the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons”

The Cold War race:

  1. The driving force for the demand for a nuclear weapon-free world is a simple humanitarian impulse, the love and compassion for other human beings
  2. Nuclear weapons are the ultimate means of mass destruction and history has shown their use brings immeasurable death and suffering
  3. It was this realisation that led to the November 1961 UN General Assembly resolution that declared: “Any state using nuclear and thermonuclear weapons is to be considered as violating the Charter of the United Nations, as acting contrary to the laws of humanity, and as committing a crime against mankind and civilisation”
  4. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union argued that the world was in a life or death struggle and nuclear weapons were a tragic necessity
  5. Both sides knew no one would win in a nuclear war but they prepared to fight regardless
  6. It was an insane and murderous logic: since neither side could allow the other to prevail, the only acceptable outcome to both was mutual assured destruction
  7. A handful of states followed them down into this moral pit: answer mass destruction with mass destruction
  8. Tragically, this included India, which was warned by none other than Mahatma Gandhi that “the moral to be legitimately drawn from the supreme tragedy of the bomb is that it will not be destroyed by counter-bombs”

Resistance of the nuclear club:

  1. The end of the Cold War offered the hope of a new start for the world
  2. The UN General Assembly asked the International Court of Justice to rule on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons
  3. In July 1996, the court issued an advisory opinion, with two key conclusions:
  4. First, “the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law”
  5. And, second, “there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control”
  6. The door opened to a nuclear weapons ban
  7. In the 20 years since the court issued its judgment, countries with nuclear weapons have simply refused to comply
  8. Rather than starting “negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament”, they have sought to block them, choosing to launch long-term costly programmes to maintain, modernise, and in some cases augment their nuclear arsenals

Role of non-nuclear states:

  1. Non-nuclear states and peace movement activists went back to basics
  2. They launched an international effort to highlight nuclear weapons capacity to cause widespread suffering and indiscriminate harm
  3. This won support from the majority of the world’s countries
  4. At the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in 2014, officials from 158 countries showed up
  5. This process led to the adoption of a historic resolution at the UN last October “to negotiate a legally binding treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”

Role of India:

  1. India and Pakistan abstained from the UN vote
  2. India’s main argument was that nuclear disarmament talks should only happen at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva
  3. The reason was simple: the Conference on Disarmament works by consensus, which means any state can block progress
  4. India used this feature to try to block the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in 1996, and Pakistan now uses this power to stop talks on a treaty to ban the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons
  5. Their prescription would mean continued inactivity on nuclear disarmament

Time to force the issue:

  1. Most of the other nuclear weapons states, led by the U.S., did not try to hide behind diplomatic procedure
  2. They simply insisted that the world wait for them to decide when they are ready to give up their nuclear weapons
  3. After 70 years, the vast majority of countries around the world suspect that day may never come
  4. After all, the world would never have banned slavery if we had to wait for all the slave owners to agree in advance that slavery was a bad thing and that they were ready to end it
  5. Rather than waiting for that day, the nuclear weapon-free countries have decided to take matters into their own hands
  6. Their first step is the ban treaty
  7. It lays down a clear marker for what weapons the world thinks no state can seek, possess and use in wartime
  8. This is how other weapons have been banned, be they chemical weapons, biological weapons, landmines, or cluster munitions


India, Pakistan, and all of the nuclear weapons states should prepare to give up their arsenals or be treated as outlaws. Important op-ed for Mains and keep the tit-bits in mind for Prelims.

[op-ed snap] Stirring up the nuclear pot


  1. Accidental or deliberate pressing of the nuclear button was the nightmare that haunted humanity
  2. At the same time, using the nuclear genie and harnessing it for prosperity was the best dream
  3. Today, both the nightmare and the dream have become jaded

Nuclear weapons:

  1. Nuclear weapons have ceased to be viable as instruments of war because of the unpredictability of the consequences of a nuclear war
  2. No one can trust even the use of tactical nuclear weapons without collateral damage for the user
  3. Today, nations can be destroyed with mobile phones and laptops without killing a single human being, making the “humaneness” of cyberwarfare the biggest danger

Post 9/11:

  1. The theories of deterrence of nuclear stockpiles have also been discredited after 9/11 brought the most formidable nuclear power to its knees
  2. Non-proliferation today, if any, is not on account of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but on account of the futility of building nuclear arsenals
  3. The threat of terrorism looms larger than the threat of nuclear weapons
  4. After Fukushima, nuclear power too is receding as a sensible component of the energy mix
  5. One clean-up operation after an accident can demolish many years of technological advancement and hopes of having cheap power
  6. The sun shines as a source of energy, not the glittering nuclear reactors which seem to emit mushroom clouds

Still a flourishing industry:

  1. There is constant activity on the weapons and the power fronts
  2. The nuclear and disarmament industry still flourish
  3. Former U.S. President Barack Obama’s Prague speech had ignited cautious optimism that nuclear weapons would cease to be the anchor of security, though not during his presidency, not even in his lifetime
  4. Rajiv Gandhi’s United Nations Plan of Action for total elimination of nuclear weapons came out of the dusty archives
  5. The ‘Global Zero’ movement gained momentum, even as nuclear weapon powers continued investment in developing delivery systems and weapons

Mr. Trump’s stand:

  1. S. President Donald Trump had once said that proliferation was good for American allies
  2. Recently, he hinted at the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances

Emphasising non-proliferation:

  1. NPT enthusiasts have been disappointed of late that out of the three pillars of the treaty, non-proliferation, disarmament and nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, the first, non-proliferation, has got watered down and disarmament has become the priority
  2. They also worry that dangerous technologies like enrichment are within the reach of the non-weapon states
  3. In the context of Japan and South Korea debating acquisition of nuclear weapons, they feel that non-proliferation should be brought back to be the first priority of the NPT
  4. The promotional function of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is also a concern for them
  5. The IAEA has already shifted its focus from nuclear power to nuclear security, as a result
  6. In 1995, the NPT was made a perpetual treaty with no possibility of amendment, but its votaries now advocate that non-proliferation should be emphasised to the exclusion of disarmament and nuclear energy promotion
  7. More than 120 nations in October 2016 voted on a UN General Assembly resolution to convene the conference to negotiate a legally binding treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading to their total elimination
  8. Britain, France, Russia and the U.S. voted no, while China, India and Pakistan abstained

Why did India abstain?

  1. Though India had recommended the convening of such a conference, it abstained on the resolution as it was not convinced that the conference could accomplish much at this time
  2. India said that it supported the commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention, which in addition to prohibition and elimination also includes verification
  3. The U.S. and others wanted to accept the reality that such conferences would serve no purpose
  4. The conference has failed even before it commenced

No-first use doctrine:

  1. In the midst of this ferment, a debate has begun in India about a review of its no-first use doctrine
  2. Experts seem to think that India’s doctrine is flexible enough to deal with any eventuality
  3. Others feel that we should enter more caveats to safeguard our interests

On nuclear power production:

  1. On the nuclear power front, the efforts to increase nuclear power production suffered a setback as a result of Fukushima
  2. Many countries that had lined up before the IAEA for nuclear technology for peaceful purposes quietly switched to other sources of energy
  3. The much-expected nuclear renaissance withered away
  4. Except for China, India and Russia, most nations have shied away from building nuclear reactors or importing them
  5. India’s liability law deterred U.S. companies from exporting reactors to India
  6. The financial problems of Westinghouse, which had agreed to build six reactors in Andhra Pradesh, postponed, if not cancelled, the venture
  7. But India has not fundamentally changed its three-stage nuclear power development, though the thorium stage eludes it

Kudankulam Project:

  1. The Kudankulam project is set to move along with Russian collaboration, but its progress has been slow
  2. The nuclear liability law, the Westinghouse bankruptcy and the protests by local people have combined to delay the expansion of nuclear power in India


In the midst of all nuclear treaties, plethora of advantages of nuclear energy and the nuclear arms race, this op-ed throws light on how a section of this world feels that the nuclear projects should be completely raised to ground. Important for mains.

[op-ed snap] Powered by a pause: delay in Indo-U.S. nuclear deal


  1. Indo-U.S. civil nuclear agreement’s operationalisation may be further delayed owing to Westinghouse’s financial difficulties and Japan’s procedural issues in ratifying the deal with India
  2. This sets back “work toward finalising the contractual arrangements by June 2017” for six reactors to be built in Andhra Pradesh by Toshiba-owned Westinghouse and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL)

The underlying problems:

  1. India has little control over both circumstances, and rather than seeing them as a setback, the government and officials should use this as an opportunity to re-examine the country’s engagement with nuclear energy for future needs
  2. Westinghouse’s near-bankruptcy is part of a larger pattern of worldwide cost overruns and delivery delays across the nuclear energy industry
  3. Nuclear manufacturer Areva (in partnership with Mitsubishi) has a similarly precarious position despite hopes of a bailout by the French government
  4. Even Russian supplier Rosatom’s Kudankulam units 1 and 2, in the only foreign collaboration now operational in India, were built in double the time budgeted, while units 3 and 4 could see delays
  5. The cost of importing reactors, relative to those based on indigenous design, is another concern
  6. Land acquisition issues remain, along with the need for large water reservoirs for the reactors, which will only grow if the government goes ahead with its plans for 55 reactors of 63,000 MW in total by 2032
  7. In addition, given concerns about a possible tsunami scenario along the Andhra coast, where many of these reactors are planned, the Department of Atomic Energy and NPCIL are looking for options farther inland

An agreement that was called a deal:

  1. The promise of nuclear power has thus far outweighed all of these concerns
  2. India has reason to be proud of its technology and determination to look for non-fossil alternatives in its energy planning
  3. However, with rapid progress in technology in other renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, the collapse of oil prices and the expansion in gas projects as a viable and clean alternative, that promise has dimmed
  4. These could also be more cost-effective for a developing country such as India, as the energy can be made available in smaller units, and then built up
  5. Unlike in nuclear plants where nothing can be transmitted until the whole plant is complete and attains critical status
  6. Above all, the risk surrounding nuclear safety is yet to be fully mapped, post-Fukushima
  7. A Japanese court ruling holding both the state regulator and the operator responsible for the 2011 triple meltdown has sent sobering signals to the industry


India’s energy planners and government should relook at the cost-benefit analysis on the nuclear power balance sheet. The op-ed has points on the costs of nuclear reactor, make note of these for Mains.

[op-ed snap] Revisiting India’s nuclear doctrine

No First Use:

  1. There are calls for reassessing India’s nuclear doctrine as a regular feature of our strategic landscape
  2. The demand for revision rests either on scepticism about India’s commitment to a No First Use posture or the intention to retaliate massively to any nuclear first strike, no matter what the yield of the weapon used first
  3. What seems to receive much less attention, however, is the declaration that India reserves the right to nuclear retaliation “in the event of a major attack against India, or Indian forces anywhere, by biological or chemical weapons
  4. In doing so, we are clubbing together nuclear first use — which has not occurred since 1945 — and biological and chemical first use which, especially chemical, continues to occur sporadically, whether by state or non-state actors

Use of chemical weapons:

  1. The dramatic assassination in Malaysia last month of North Korean Kim Jong-nam by the chemical agent VX, which was almost certainly orchestrated by elements within the North Korean state, adds another layer to questions about making sponsors of chemical attacks accountable
  2. The ease with which deadly chemicals can be transported across state borders, as demonstrated by the assault, gives further pause
  3. The fact remains that the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention has succeeded in only partly making their use utterly reprehensible; their use is beyond the pale but will not alter the course of history in the manner that we expect will follow a nuclear explosion
  4. Quite simply, there is a fairly strong norm governing the non-use of nuclear weapons; the norm against the use of chemical and biological weapons is still coalescing
  5. Despite being banned, chemical weapons have not gone away
  6. They have cropped up frequently in Syria and Iraq, where their recent use has been attributed to the Islamic State

India’s case:

  1. If a roughly similar attack were carried out against Indians, whether military personnel, politicians or indeed civilians, how would New Delhi define “major”?
  2. This is, of course, assuming India could definitely pin the blame on a state
  3. It might be worth recalling that Bashar al-Assad used the nerve agent sarin against civilians in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta in August 2013, killing over 1,400 people
  4. The former President Barack Obama, at the very last moment of retaliatory attacks, (by some accounts, the day before the expected air strikes), Mr. Obama stopped short of authorising military action
  5. A diplomatic solution was eventually found with the help of Russian President Vladimir Putin; Syria agreed to give up and dismantle a stockpile of 1,300 tonnes of chemical agents and acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention (though Damascus’ adherence to the Convention has been patchy)
  6. Would New Delhi be able to resist popular pressure for decisive retaliation if Indians suffered a chemical or biological attack, especially when India appears to have committed itself to considering a nuclear response to such an attack?

A game changer:

  1. Nuclear weapons deter other nuclear weapons
  2. To require them to do more is to imbue these weapons with even more political meaning than they now carry
  3. This ultimate weapon is already a political force: from the limited number of states who can possess them, to the devastating generational and environmental consequences of their use
  4. A policy of No First Use works well: it builds stability into deterrence by credibly promising nuclear retaliation in the face of extreme provocation of a nuclear first strike by one’s adversary
  5. It promises to take both you and your adversary to the abyss and raises the cost of the adversary’s first strike immeasurably
  6. That is all we need these weapons to do militarily


At the end of the day, nuclear weapons are not just another weapon in the military toolkit but a game changer and dangerous too. A good op-ed from Mains PoV.

[op-ed snap] A looming nuclear expansion


  1. As US President Donald Trump recalibrates American strategy towards Europe and Asia, the idea that countries like Japan and Germany may have to develop nuclear weapons of their own no longer sounds outrageous
  2. During his campaign for the presidency last year, Trump had demanded that the US can’t forever bear the burden of defending its Eurasian partners and that they must do more for regional security
  3. Trump also argued that if some of the American allies chose to build nuclear weapons as part of that effort, the US might be better off

North Korean atomic crisis:

  1. Now, as the North Korean atomic crisis gathers momentum, the Trump administration is suggesting that the option of letting the East Asian allies acquire nuclear options is on the table
  2. As the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, undertook his first visit to Asia and conferred with the leaders of Japan, South Korea and China in the last few days, North Korea was at the top of his agenda
  3. Tillerson declared America’s “strategic patience” with Pyongyang has come to an end
  4. He said past American efforts to roll back North Korean nuclear and missile programmes have failed and that Washington is considering new approaches, including the use of preemptive force
  5. North Korea thumbed its nose by testing a high performance rocket engine that could allow it to develop intercontinental missiles
  6. North Korea’s nuclear defiance and American frustration are complicating the already tense geopolitical dynamic involving the United States, China, South Korea and Japan

Critical of China:

  1. On the eve of Tillerson’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump pointed to North Korea’s “bad behaviour” and Beijing’s reluctance to help resolve the issue
  2. Tillerson too criticised China for punishing South Korea for trying to defend itself against North Korea’s missiles
  3. Beijing had imposed economic measures against South Korea after it chose to deploy the US anti-missile system, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence Missile (THAAD), on its soil
  4. “We instead urge China to address the threat that makes THAAD necessary,” Tillerson said
  5. China, of course, argues that US missile defence systems degrade Beijing’s own nuclear deterrent

North Korea effecting Japan:

  1. North Korea’s nuclear programme also affects Japan, which is growing nervous at Pyongyang’s rapidly expanding nuclear and missile capabilities
  2. When asked about the nuclearisation of Japan and South Korea in response to North Korea’s strategic programmes, Tillerson did not rule out that possibility

Denuclearising North Korea:

  1. S.’s objective is a denuclearised Korean peninsula and the realisation of that goal “negates any thought or need for Japan (and South Korea) to have nuclear weapons”
  2. If the world can’t persuade or force North Korea to abandon its nuclear arsenal, US plans to look at alternative possibilities
  3. Trump’s top diplomat has reportedly conveyed this tough message to the Chinese leadership — if Beijing can’t stop North Korea, Washington will not hold back Tokyo and Seoul from going nuclear
  4. Beijing, however, insists that the responsibility for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula can’t be pinned on China alone
  5. Few are willing to bet that Beijing and Washington can either separately or together push North Korea to cave in

A world of nuclear powers:

  1. North Korean crisis pushes Asia to consider different nuclear futures
  2. Europe too has begun to debate new nuclear possibilities amidst Russian muscle-flexing and Trump’s talk of retrenchment
  3. President Trump has not given up on the argument that Europeans must pay more for regional defence

German ideas:

  1. Some Germans have talked about an independent nuclear deterrent
  2. Others have discussed the prospect for a common European deterrent built around the French nuclear arsenal

Critical of the new nuclear forces:

  1. Mainstream Western opinion argues that new national or collective nuclear forces in Europe and Asia are dangerous
  2. Sceptics point to the multiple difficulties in constructing such arsenals
  3. On the supply side, Trump is questioning the costs and benefits of America’s extraordinary post-war Eurasian security commitments
  4. On the demand side, the Chinese and Russian assertiveness is undermining the credibility of US alliances in Eurasia
  5. Finally, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, an utterly unpredictable actor in a critical location, is testing the limits of the old nuclear order


Keep track of this news on increasing the nuclear arsenals in the world that could be disastrous for the world at large.

China proposes ‘dual suspension’ formula to defuse Korean crisis

  1. China proposed a double suspension formula to defuse the crisis in the Korean Peninsula
  2. It is a part of its new assertive approach to shoulder greater global responsibilities within the framework of the United Nations
  3. As a first step, North Korea may suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the suspension of large-scale U.S.-South Korea military exercises
  4. This will help the parties to break out of the security dilemma and return to the negotiating table
  5. We may follow the dual-track approach of denuclearising the peninsula on the one hand and establishing a peace mechanism on the other
  6. Chinese role: The North Korea and the United States are the main parties to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula
  7. But as a next-door neighbour with a lips-and-teeth relationship with the Peninsula, China’s role in the resolution of the issue was indispensable

Other views by Chinese representative

  1. BRICS: Grouping was set for deepening its engagement with the Global South under a BRICS-plus approach
  2. Under the stewardship of China, which will host the BRICS summit this year, the emerging-country bloc will explore establishing a dialogue partnership with other major developing countries
  3. Chinese approach: At a time when the United States appeared to be looking inwards, China would champion inclusive globalisation, within the framework of the UN
  4. Xi Jinping’s January visit to international organisations had sent out a clear message that China strongly supported multilateralism, along with its abiding commitment to the UN-centered multilateral international system
  5. Global system: The current international system was built by our forefathers from the ashes of the Second World War
  6. It is a result of our common effort and wisdom
  7. It is like a well-designed building with multilateralism as its cornerstone and the UN and other international organisations as important pillars


Note the term ‘double suspension’ for prelims. The views expressed in nuclear issue as well as others are important for mains as to what is Chinese approach to these issues.

[op-ed snap] Sparks in a tinderbox


  1. North Korea’s provocative action of launching four missiles into the Sea of Japan a few hundred kilometres from the Japanese coastline
  2. It has triggered fears of renewed tension between nuclear-armed powers

The launch:

  1. The launch seems timed to test the strategic fortitude and tactical capabilities of new relationships in the broader power balance that reins in Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions
  2. The first test would be of the strength of bilateral U.S.-Japan ties on the watch of U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
  3. North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un had already given these two leaders a wake-up call when his regime fired a medium-range missile last month

The “Trump” card:

  1. Trump has assured both Mr. Abe and South Korea’s acting President, Hwang Kyo-Ahn, of his ironclad commitment to stand by them through this crisis
  2. Yet it is likely that Mr. Kim was, in fact, trying to get a measure of Mr. Trump, who had tweeted shortly before assuming office in January, “it won’t happen!”, on the North being close to testing an ICBM

Experts’ views:

  1. Experts seem to concur that the missiles launched now did not appear to be of intercontinental range
  2. Yet, the prospect looms of the North miniaturising nuclear warheads to the point where even shorter-range weapons could, if they were nuclear-tipped, pose unprecedented risk to South Korea, Japan and the U.S. military assets in the vicinity

The unmanaged fear:

  1. The continuous belligerence of North Korea is only one side of the story
  2. The other is that the international community, led by the U.S. and nations within striking distance of the North’s aggression, has hardly managed the conflict consistently
  3. The commendable effort of the Six Party Talks to invest diplomatic currency in bringing Pyongyang back to the negotiating table got derailed early on in President Barack Obama’s first term
  4. The cycle of sanctions and international isolation fuelling further bravado by the Kim regime then dominated the denouement, as indeed it has since 1992
  5. This time the conflict seems to be following a distinctly more unstable trajectory as Mr. Trump has authorised the deployment in South Korea of the first elements of the U.S.’s advanced anti-missile system, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD), disregarding the possibility that it may be a double-edged sword
  6. On the one hand, the presumed retaliatory move of THAAD deployment glosses over the fact that in the past week the S. and South Korea had conducted military drills in the region, war games that Pyongyang views as overt hostility
  7. On the other, Washington has clearly decided to ignore the justifiable fears of Beijing and Moscow that THAAD’s nuclear umbrella threatens their interests in the region too, not North Korea’s alone
  8. Unless de-escalation becomes a priority for all parties involved, the Korean Peninsula region will remain a flashpoint


In the world where every country proudly possesses nuclear weapons, you never know what sparks into a nuclear war. North Korea has already been declared a Rogue nation previously. This launch of four missiles by North Korea is an important international event that cannot be ignored by an UPSC aspirant.


Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD):

  1. It was formerly called Theater High Altitude Area Defense
  2. It is a United States Army anti-ballistic missile system designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase using a hit-to-kill approach
  3. THAAD was developed to counter Iraq’s Scud missile attacks during the Gulf War in 1991
  4. The missile carries no warhead, but relies on the kinetic energy of impact to destroy the incoming missile
  5. A kinetic energy hit minimizes the risk of exploding conventional warhead ballistic missiles, and nuclear tipped ballistic missiles will not detonate upon a kinetic energy hit

U.S. believes Russia deployed new missile in treaty violation: NYT

  1. News: Russia had secretly deployed the ground-launched SSC-8 cruise missile that Moscow has been developing and testing for several years
  2. This is despite U.S. complaints that it violated sections of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.


Be abreast of the issue as it develops. Know about INF treaty in b2b; it is important for prelims.


1. A cruise missile is a guided missile used against terrestrial targets that remains in the atmosphere and flies the major portion of its flight path at approximately constant speed. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high precision.

2. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty):

  1. It is the abbreviated name of the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles
  2. It is a 1987 agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union (and later its successor states, in particular the Russian Federation)
  3. Signed in Washington, D.C. by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on 8 December 1987, the treaty was ratified by the United States Senate on 27 May 1988 and came into force on 1 June 1988
  4. The treaty marked the first time the superpowers had agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenals, eliminate an entire category of nuclear weapons, and utilize extensive on-site inspections for verification
  5. The INF Treaty eliminated all nuclear and conventional missiles, as well as their launchers, with ranges of 500–1,000 kilometers (310–620 mi) (short-range) and 1,000–5,500 km (620–3,420 mi) (intermediate-range)
  6. The treaty did not cover sea-launched missiles
  7. By May 1991, 2,692 missiles were eliminated, followed by 10 years of on-site verification inspections

[pib] Involvement of Private Sector in Nuclear Power Generation


  1. Proposals for setting up of ten indigenous Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors each of 700 MW
  2. And two Light Water Reactors each of 1000 MW (Kudankulam Units-5&6) with foreign cooperation have been prepared and finalized

Current scenario:        

  1. Presently two Central Public Sector Enterprises viz. Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI) are involved in nuclear power generation
  2. In addition, the Government has amended the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 to facilitate establishment of Joint Venture Companies (JVC) by NPCIL with other Central Public Sector Undertakings to set up nuclear power plants


Know about the location of different nuclear plants in India, kinds of nuclear reactors etc. for prelims.


Russia makes big military push in Arctic

  1. Nuclear icebreakers: Russia is on the march in the Arctic and building new nuclear icebreakers
  2. Russia is building three nuclear icebreakers, including the world’s largest, to bolster its fleet of around 40 breakers, six of which are nuclear
  3. This is nearly three decades after nuclear icebreaker Lenin was taken out of service to be turned into a visitor attraction
  4. Military bases: It is also rushing to re-open abandoned Soviet military, air and radar bases on remote Arctic islands and to build new ones, as it pushes ahead with a claim to almost half a million square miles of the Arctic
  5. No other country has a nuclear breaker fleet, used to clear channels for military and civilian ships
  6. Why? It is part of a push to firm Moscow’s hand in the High North as it vies for dominance with traditional rivals Canada, the United States, and Norway as well as newcomer China
  7. The expansion has far-reaching financial and geopolitical ramifications
  8. The Arctic is estimated to hold more hydrocarbon reserves than Saudi Arabia and Moscow is putting down a serious military marker
  9. Biggest since Soviet fall: Russia’s build-up is the biggest since the 1991 Soviet fall and will, in some areas, give Moscow more military capabilities than the Soviet Union once had


This is important for prelims as well as for mains. This can be point in your environment essay which depicts encroachment on arctic glaciers.

[op-ed snap] No First Use Policy- its advantages

  1. Context: Since 1998, a key pillar of India’s nuclear policy has been a pledge not to use nuclear weapons first
  2. Why India opts for NFU? India’s non-nuclear military forces are superior to Pakistan’s
  3. Very low risk of a major ground war with China given Indian defensive stopping power of the Himalayas
  4. No plausible scenarios for which the first use of nuclear weapons might be useful
  5. India’s nuclear forces are strictly to deter a WMD attack, and can be oriented entirely for retaliation
  6. Advantages of NFU: stable scenario because enemies do not have to fear that India will initiate nuclear use, which might tempt them to use nuclear weapons early and massively against India
  7. Ambiguity in nuclear doctrine is not necessarily a bad thing — it can enhance deterrence
  8. Parrikar’s remarks, however, did not introduce ambiguity into Indian nuclear doctrine. Instead, they injected confusion
  9. Confusion arises when statements by various govt officials, contradict stated government policy, this leads other countries to believe in the worst case scenario
  10. Hence, PM Modi must publicly reaffirm India’s NFU pledge

A background of the Marshall Islands disarmament case

  1. The Marshall Islands originally filed cases against all nine nations that have declared or are believed to possess nuclear weapons
  2. These include- the U.S., Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea
  3. But only the cases against Britain, India and Pakistan got to the preliminary stage of proceedings
  4. In a landmark 1996 advisory opinion, the court said that using or threatening to use nuclear arms would ‘generally be contrary to’ the laws of war and humanitarian law
  5. But it added that it could not definitively rule on whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be legal ‘in an extreme circumstance of self-defence, in which the very survival of a state would be at stake’
  6. The judges in 1996 also unanimously stated that there is a legal obligation ‘to pursue in good faith’ nuclear disarmament talks

Discuss: Considering ongoing geopolitical conflicts across the world, do you think Non- Nuclear States should push Nuclear States towards disarmament of their nuclear weapons? What factors have determined India’s stance on disarmament?

UN court rejects disarmament case against India

  1. The International Court of Justice rejected nuclear disarmament cases filed by the Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands against Britain, India and Pakistan
  2. Ruling (why rejected Marshall’s claim?): The Marshall Islands has failed to prove that a legal dispute over disarmament existed between it and the three nuclear powers before the case was filed in 2014, and consequently the court lacks jurisdiction

India will never sign NPT, says Sushma Swaraj

  1. News: Govt told the Lok Sabha that it will never sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) but will maintain commitment to the NPT
  2. This counts as a significant continuation of national policy on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
  3. Context: It was in response to a question if India had a clear policy about how to join the NSG without becoming a member of the NPT?
  4. How to get NSG entry? The world knows our commitment to the NPT and it was because of this that we got the waiver and it was on this basis that we will get NSG membership
  5. Background: India got waiver at the NSG in 2008 without becoming member of the NPT

Pacific Ocean radiation nears pre-Fukushima level

  1. News: Radiation levels across the Pacific Ocean are rapidly returning to normal after 5 years, a study showed
  2. Background: An earthquake-generated tsunami in 2011 in Japan had triggered dumping of nuclear material into the world’s oceans, from Fukushima nuclear power plant
  3. Study also showed that radioactive material has been carried across the ocean as far as the shores of US
  4. The research examined radioactive caesium levels measured off Japan’s coast across the Pacific to North America
  5. Caesium is a by-product of nuclear power and is highly soluble in water, making it ideal for measuring the release of radioactive material into the ocean

Nuclear plants insured

  1. News: India’s first insurance policy covering public liability to an atomic power plant operator has been issued to Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL)
  2. The insurance policy was issued by the country’s largest non-life insurer New India Assurance Company Ltd
  3. The total was around Rs 100 crore for a risk cover of Rs 1,500 crore
  4. Background: The Central government had announced the setting up of the Rs 1,500-crore India Nuclear Insurance Pool to be managed by national reinsurer GIC Re

India enters MTCR

  1. News: India joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), in a bid to boost its non-proliferation credentials
  2. MTCR: Places restrictions of proliferation of rockets and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that can carry a payload of 500kgs and a range of 300kms
  3. China, who had blocked India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), is not a member of MTCR
  4. Benefits: Will enable India to buy high-end missile technology and also enhance its JVs with Russia
  5. Background: Italy, a member of MTCR, had previously blocked India’s application over the issue of detaining its marines
  6. After resolving the issue with Italy and after joining the Hague Code of Conduct, India was poised to be an MTCR member soon

What is Pelindaba Treaty?

  1. Pelindaba Treaty (Also known as the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty or ANWFZT) controls uranium supply from key mineral hubs in Africa
  2. As India is not a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the member states of Pelindbaba treaty (ANWFZT) are not allowed to supply uranium to India
  3. Named after South Africa’s main nuclear research centre, a location where South Africa’s nuclear bombs of 1970s were developed and stored

Namibia assures uranium supply to India

  1. News: Namibia assured that it will look into legal ways through which its uranium can be supplied to India for civil nuclear power projects
  2. Context: As India is not a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Namibia, one of the member states of Pelindbaba treaty, is not allowed to supply uranium to India
  3. Namibia and India also shared similar views about the need for reforms in the United Nations

Let’s know more about MTCR

  1. MTCR: Missile Technology Control Regime is an informal political understanding among states that seek to limit the proliferation of missiles and missile technology
  2. When? Was formed in 1987 by the G-7 industrialized countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the United States)
  3. Purpose: The MTCR seeks to limit the risks of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by controlling exports of goods and technologies that could make a contribution to delivery systems (other than manned aircraft) for such weapons
  4. Focus: Rockets and unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering a payload of at least 500 kg to a range of at least 300 km and on equipment, software, and technology for such systems


Is MTCR a treaty & what is its relation with UN?

  1. MTCR is NOT a treaty and does not impose any legally binding obligations on Partners (members)
  2. Rather, it is an informal political understanding among states
  3. MTCR & the UN: While there is no formal linkage, the activities of the MTCR are consistent with the UN’s non-proliferation and export control efforts
  4. For example, applying the MTCR Guidelines and Annex on a national basis helps countries to meet their export control obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 1540

What after MTCR membership?

  1. Admission to the MTCR would open the way for India to buy high-end missile technology
  2. It will also make India’s aspiration to buy state-of-the-art surveillance drones such as the U.S. Predator, made by General Atomics
  3. Membership would require India to comply with rules- such as a maximum missile range of 300 km (186 miles)- that seek to prevent arms races from developing
  4. It also restricts export of missiles carrying more than 500 kg payload as well as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) with mass destruction capabilities
  5. India is also hopeful of building on the MTCR entry with membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and the Australian and Wassenaar arrangements next

India clears final hurdle to join missile control group

  1. The members of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) have agreed to admit India
  2. A deadline for members of the group to object to India’s admission had expired on Monday without any of them raising objections
  3. Under the ‘silent procedure‘, India’s admission follows automatically
  4. Next stage: Each of the 34 member countries need to send a diplomatic note stating formally that they accept India’s membership
  5. This could take weeks or even months, given the internal processes of each country
  6. India will also soon receive membership documents which it must ratify and return

Swiss back India’s bid for Nuclear Suppliers Group membership

  1. Context: India has been pushing for membership of the NSG for last few years and has formally moved its application
  2. Switzerland promised India support in its efforts to become a member of NSG
  3. The NSG looks after critical issues relating to the nuclear sector and its membership will help India expand its atomic energy sector

Let’s know more about the Hague Code of conduct

  1. The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC) was established on 25 November 2002
  2. It is a voluntary legally non-binding multilateral body
  3. Aim: Preventing the spread of ballistic missiles that can deliver weapons of mass destruction
  4. It is the only normative instrument to verify the spread of ballistic missiles
  5. It does not ban ballistic missiles, but it does call for restraint in their production, testing, and export
  6. Its membership stands at 138 (including India)
  7. While the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) has a similar mission, it is an export group with only 34 members

India joins The Hague Code of Conduct

  1. India’s joining HCoC strengthened the worldwide attempt to contain the spread of ballistic missiles
  2. It signals our readiness to further strengthen the global non-proliferation regimes
  3. HCoC has been focused on West Asia, South Asia and the East Asia due to the rising missile and nuclear arms race among rival powers
  4. In the latest meeting of the HCoC, a special mention was made of the increased number of missile launches by North Korea in 2015
  5. India is on track for membership in other technology regimes like the Missile Technology Control Regime

China’s global nuclear inroads

  1. With the world’s largest number of reactors under construction, China plans to develop this experience (Sudan) into nuclear exports
  2. China is already having a long standing nuclear cooperation with Pakistan as it has built several nuclear power reactors and is currently building two 1100 mw reactors in Karachi
  3. Chinese nuclear companies are also making huge inroads in global nuclear markets, including Britain and Argentina

China signs deals with Sudan to build nuclear reactor

  1. China has signed agreements with Sudan (its close ally in Africa) to build 600-megawatt atomic reactor, the first such project in the African country
  2. The agreements may involve a blueprint for nuclear power development in the next decade for Sudan and building the first nuclear power station in the country

Key nuclear security initiatives

  1. Context: Modi announced key nuclear security initiatives by India during Nuclear Security Summit
  2. Initiatives: Counter nuclear smuggling and strengthen the national detection architecture for nuclear and radioactive material
  3. A dedicated counter-nuclear smuggling team has been set up.
  4. High national priority to nuclear security through strong institutional framework, independent regulatory agency and trained and specialized manpower
  5. Support IAEA’s role in nuclear security by a further contribution of $1 million to the nuclear security fund

Kerry hails India’s role in securing its nuclear material

  1. Context: The 4th Nuclear Security Summit at US
  2. News: India has a very important role to play in securing nuclear weapons and nuclear materials
  3. It has shown responsible stewardship of nuclear weapons and nuclear materials
  4. India is deeply interested in seeing and ensuring that the safety and security of the radioactive material must be ensured
  5. Challenge: The battlefield deployments make nuclear weapons vulnerable to theft and sabotage

Nuclear security must remain abiding national priority: Modi

  1. Context: Modi during a White House dinner hosted by US President Barack Obama that formally kicked off the two-day Nuclear Security Summit
  2. What? Nuclear security must remain an abiding national priority
  3. All States must completely abide by their international obligations
  4. Brussels attacks show how real and immediate the threat is to nuclear security from terrorism

Learn about Nuclear Security Summit

  1. Basics: It provide a forum for leaders to engage with each other and reinforce the commitment to securing nuclear materials
  2. History: The I Nuclear Security Summit was held in Washington, DC in 2010, and was followed by Seoul in 2012 and The Hague in 2014
  3. Impact: It has achieved improvements in the security of nuclear materials and stronger international institutions that support nuclear security
  4. 2016 Summit: It will be the last Nuclear Security Summit in its current format
  5. The twin goals are advancing improvements in nuclear security behavior, and strengthening the global nuclear security architecture

Modi in US to attend nuclear security summit

  1. Context: The fourth and last Nuclear Security Summit hosted by Obama
  2. News: Mr. Modi is expected to lay out his vision of securing nuclear weapons
  3. He would underline some of the important measures India has taken to strengthen nuclear security
  4. Agenda: To strengthen the global nuclear security architecture, especially to ensure that non-state actors do not get access to nuclear material
  5. To deliberate on the crucial issue of threat to nuclear security caused by nuclear terrorism

India may focus on best practices at Nuclear Security Summit

  1. Context: To highlight the “Best Practices” in the international nuclear industry and its national nuclear safety record in the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) held in March
  2. Importance: This is the last time U.S. President Obama will host the participating countries and the first time PM Modi will take part
  3. Indo-Pak Relevance: Summit may form the backdrop for a meeting between Modi and Sharif , that may thaw freeze that crept into India-Pakistan ties
  4. Background: India has been a part of the summit since it convened in 2010, but came into focus due to a critical campaign by Centre for Public Integrity, a Washington DC-based NGO
  5. Scientists Opinion: Summit provided opportunity for India to stay ahead in the field of security and safety in the nuclear industry
  6. Way ahead: India will highlight its safety and non-proliferation records in the summit

Marshall Islands sue Britain, India and Pakistan over nuclear weapons

Archipelago where infamous Bikini Atoll test took place tells international court that nuclear powers have not lived up to disarmament obligations.


  1. It sought to persuade the UN’s highest court to take up a lawsuit, accusing the countries of failing to halt the nuclear arms race.
  2. The International Court of Justice has announced dates for separate hearings for the three cases between March 7 and March 16.
  3. In the cases brought against India and Pakistan, the court will examine whether the tribunal based in Hague is competent enough to hear the lawsuits.
  4. The hearing involving Britain will be devoted to ‘preliminary objections’ raised by London.
  5. A decision will be made at a later date as to whether the cases can proceed.

India pushes harder for NSG membership

  1. India is fast-pacing its pitch for membership to the 48-member nuclear club.
  2. The 48-member NSG works by consensus, and not majority, so India is reaching out to every possible country.
  3. Govt. is focusing on membership of NSG, as well as other major groupings: Missile Technology Control Regime, Australian and Wassenaar Arrangement.

Modi may attend US nuclear security summit next year

  1. PM is likely to travel to the US for the 4th Nuclear Security Summit in next year, an initiative of President Barack Obama.
  2. This is an international effort to secure vulnerable nuclear material, break up black markets, and detect and intercept illicitly trafficked material.
  3. These risks were mostly associated with the republics that once formed the Soviet Union and were left with a lot of nuclear material.
  4. Now, Pakistan has emerged as a core concern with the increasing risk of jihadi groups accessing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

No decision on India’s inclusion as MTCR concludes meeting

It was established in April 1987 by Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Great Britain, and the United States.

  1. India has an application under submission since June 2015 to be a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
  2. MTCR is voluntary partnership between 34 countries to prevent the proliferation of missile and unmanned aerial vehicle technology.
  3. MTCR was supplemented by the International Code of Conduct in 2002, against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (ICOC), also known as the Hague Code of Conduct.

What a US-Pakistan nuclear deal might mean for India

Although the deal has been termed a potential “diplomatic blockbuster”, its inherent contradictions may make it difficult to sell in both the US and Pakistan.

pakistan, US, Pakistan US nuclear deal, Pakistan US civil nuclear deal, Washington, Islamabad, india US nuclear deal, india news


  1. As the idea of a nuclear deal between the United States and Pakistan gains some traction in Washington, Delhi is unlikely to lose much sleep.
  2. The hope for a nuclear deal between America and Pakistan was born the very moment US-India unveiled the historic civil nuclear initiative in July 2005.
  3. Pakistan simultaneously opposed the US deal with India and demanded one for itself on the same terms that Washington had offered Delhi.
  4. The Bush Administration refused to entertain any proposal for a nuclear accommodation with Pakistan.
  5. It insisted that the deal with Delhi was an exception that couldn’t be replicated with Islamabad.
  6. The US is ready to lift international restrictions against civilian nuclear commerce with Pakistan in return for significant voluntary restraints on its nuclear weapons programme.
  7. The terms of the deal with Pakistan are somewhat different from those that India had won from Washington in 2005.
  8. This will make it a hard political sell in Pakistan, which has always insisted on ‘nuclear parity’ with India.
  9. The quest for nuclear parity has only been one important theme of Pakistan’s atomic diplomacy.

Overall completes the vicious circle that has long complicated the triangular relationship between India, Pakistan and the US.

Nuclear energy not viable, says German economist

  1. German green economist Ralf Fücks feels India should focus on solar energy, which is becoming cheaper by the day.
  2. India will do better to invest in solar and in wind power than in nuclear energy.
  3. Nuclear energy is economically unsustainable and needed govt. subsidies to survive.
  4. If something goes wrong then it can be catastrophic like Chernobyl and Fukushima.
  5. There was a very thin wall between civil and military nuclear applications.

India has to homogenise liability law, says GE chief

  1. There is an extremely standard liability law that the rest of the world has adopted.
  2. The language has to be just homogenised between India and the rest of the world.
  3. The subsidies in the electricity sector should be lowered so that prices were more market-determined.
  4. GE is interested in commercial and military aviation, renewable energy as well as oil and gas and also saw a big opportunity in Make in India.

N-pact a done deal, says Indian envoy

In 2 summits with the U.S. in 4 months, Indian government addressed lingering differences with the U.S. on nuclear liability, injected new energy into defence and economic cooperation, and explored pragmatic ways forward on IPR issues and climate change.

Questions (attempt in the comments section)


India’s entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) will open the gateways for India’s membership in other nuclear regimes as well. Critically examine.


“India seeking membership of the NSG is like Russia seeking membership of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.” Comment on the statement and critically examine what India gains or doesn’t gain by NSG membership.


Do you think India is an ‘outlier’ to the non-proliferation regime? Critically comment on India’s non-proliferation record and examine how it can effectively use diplomacy to gain NSG membership.


Why does India consider it is important to get the membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime), Australian and Wassenaar Arrangements? Examine.


What is Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)? Why does India want to become its member? Examine.

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