Indian stand on nuclear disarmament goes back to the agreement that Pandit Nehru made in 1954. The Indian position had been that any agreement on a test ban would help reverse the process of competitive armament.
It would also pave the way for an agreement on disarmament. By the end of 1956, the different approaches of the States to the issue of a test ban had become clear.
The Soviet Union and India advocated an early and separate agreement on a ban on all nuclear tests without international verification; as such nuclear tests would not go undetected in any case. The Western countries sought limitation of and an eventual ban on nuclear testing with adequate verification. Eventually, the United States, Britain and Soviet Union began negotiations for the Partial Test Ban Treaty.
This treaty was formalised in 1963 and India became party to it. The late sixties saw a concern being expressed by India that the nuclear powers were reluctant to institute any chicks on their own stockpiles. The concern was articulated in the debates on the NPT.
The NPT had sought to divide the countries into those who possess a nuclear bomb and those who do not. The ‘have not had to undertake not to produce nuclear bomb, while the ‘haves’ could continue to increase their nuclear arsenal. In fact this discriminatory nature of the NPT became the single point of mention for its rejection by India.
The NPT Review Conference in 1995 decided to extend the NPT for an indefinite period. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was signed in 1996. The debate on the CTBT provides for a clearer articulation of the disarmament policy of India. Indian stand at the CTBT had been that the treaty was to ‘contribute effectively to the prevention of proliferation in all its aspects, to the enhancement of international peace and security’.
It was thus anchored in the commitment to nuclear disarmament, to the achievement of a nuclear weapon free world within a time bound frame. Indian opposition to the final version of the CTBT came because it permitted the nuclear weapon states to continue their weapons related research and development activity using non- explosive technologies.
It lacked any meaningful commitment to disarmament instead only served to retain the existing status quo. It must be noted that India continues to call for universal nuclear disarmament even after the tests. Pakistan’s refusal to join the NPT has its roots in its perception of the strategic situation in the region.
Pakistan called for an effective security guarantee that would contain the following provisions: (i) prohibition of first use of nuclear weapons by nuclear weapon states; (ii) immediate assistance for a non-weapon state which is a victim of a nuclear aggression; (iii) assistance before the Security Council can act; and (iv) a security guarantee which would include all non-weapon states which have renounced the manufacture or acquisition of nuclear weapons, irrespective of whether they have signed the NPT. Following the Indian nuclear test of 1974, Pakistan made a public declaration of its intention to enter the nuclear field. It also introduced in the United Nations the concept of a Nuclear Free Zone in South Asia and the Indian Ocean. In the later years, Pakistan’s posture on the CTBT came to be closely linked to the Indian stand.
Pakistan did not oppose the CTBT but abstained on the issue in the United Nations. The Indo-Pakistan nuclear relationship attempted a significant step in form of a non formalised 1985 agreement – neither India nor Pakistan would attack the other’s nuclear facilities.
The second step was joint agreement for inspection of all nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency. A pact between the two countries to allow for mutual inspection of sites was also proposed. Pakistan had also proposed a South Asian nuclear-free zone. In the post 1998 scenario, Pakistan has rejected Indian proposals for a treaty of no-first use of nuclear weapons, and has said that it would consider using nuclear weapons if it felt its existence to be threatened. Pakistan relies on this threat of first-use because India possesses superior conventional military forces.