Nuclear Diplomacy and Disarmament

Illicit Proliferation of networks of N-weapons


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Various treaties mentioned

Mains level: Nuclear disarmament

India has underlined the need for the international community to pay closer attention to the “illicit proliferation” of networks of nuclear weapons, their delivery systems, components and relevant technologies.

Key takeaways from India’s remarks

  • India’s remarks appeared to be a veiled reference to China and its “all-weather ally” Pakistan.
  • China’s nuclear cooperation with Pakistan was in contravention with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
  • Several concerns have been raised over the export of nuclear materials to Islamabad by Beijing and that they are in violation of international norms and established procedures.

Do you know?

India has played a leading role in global efforts towards nuclear disarmament and was the first country to call for a ban on nuclear testing in 1954 and a non-discriminatory treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, as distinct from non-dissemination, in 1965. Its no-first-use doctrine is a worldwide appreciated strategy.

Issues in Nuclear Disarmament

  • Notion of Nuclear ‘Haves’ and ‘Have-Nots’: The proponents of disarmaments are themselves nuclear armed countries thus creating a nuclear monopoly.
  • Concept of Peaceful Nuclear Explosion (PNE): conducted for non-military purposes such as mining.

India’s commitment for de-nuclearization

India has always batted for a universal commitment and an agreed global and non-discriminatory multilateral framework.

  • It has outlined a working paper on Nuclear Disarmament submitted to the UN General Assembly in 2006.
  • India participated in the Nuclear Security Summit process and has regularly participated in the International Conferences on Nuclear Security organised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
  • India is also a member of the Nuclear Security Contact Group (but has signed off the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)).
  • India has expressed its readiness to support the commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT).
  • India couldn’t join the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) due to several concerns raised by India.
  • India has piloted an annual UNGA Resolution on “Measures to Prevent Terrorists from Acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction” since 2002, which is adopted by consensus.

Why didn’t India join NPT?

  • India is one of the only five countries that either did not sign the NPT or signed but withdrew, thus becoming part of a list that includes Pakistan, Israel, North Korea, and South Sudan.
  • India always considered the NPT as discriminatory and had refused to sign it.
  • India maintains that they are selectively applicable to the non-nuclear powers and legitimised the monopoly of the five nuclear weapons powers.

Way forward

  • India has actively supported and contributed to the strengthening of the global nuclear security architecture.
  • There is a need for the international community to pay closer attention to the illicit proliferation of networks of nuclear weapons, their delivery systems, components and relevant technologies.
  • India hopes that the international community will continue to work towards realising our collective aspiration for a nuclear weapon-free world.


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Nuclear Security Contact Group

  • The NSCG was established in 2016.
  • The NSCG or “Contact Group” has been established with the aim of facilitating cooperation and sustaining engagement on nuclear security after the conclusion of the Nuclear Security Summit process.
  • The Contact Group is tasked with:
  1. Convening annually on the margins of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and, as may be useful, in connection with other related meetings
  2. Discussing a broad range of nuclear security-related issues, including identifying emerging trends that may require more focused attention

Nuclear Suppliers Group

  • NSG is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports.
  • The NSG was set up as a response to India’s nuclear tests conducted in 1974.
  • The aim of the NSG is to ensure that nuclear trade for peaceful purposes does not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

  • CTBT was negotiated at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1996.
  • The Treaty intends to ban all nuclear explosions – everywhere, by everyone.
  • It was opened for signature in 1996 and since then 182 countries have signed the Treaty, most recently Ghana has ratified the treaty in 2011.

Fissile material cut-off treaty

  • FMCT is a proposed international agreement that would prohibit the production of the two main components of nuclear weapons: highly-enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium.
  • Discussions on this subject have taken place at the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD), a body of 65 member nations established as the sole multilateral negotiating forum on disarmament.
  • The CD operates by consensus and is often stagnant, impeding progress on an FMCT.
  • Those nations that joined the nuclear NPT as non-weapon states are already prohibited from producing or acquiring fissile material for weapons.
  • An FMCT would provide new restrictions for the five recognized nuclear weapon states (NWS—United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, and China), and for the four nations that are not NPT members (Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea).

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