The definition of nuclear proliferation includes acquisition of nuclear weapons, the acquisition of fissionable materials like plutonium, enriched uranium and also the ability to produce them. This nuclear proliferation started with the Second World War. The Second World War has given out a competition among nations to build of their weapons stocks and remain ahead of others. Since then the race for nuclear arms has been continuing.
However, the nuclear proliferation can be accomplished in two ways, horizontal and vertical. If non-nuclear states become nuclear powers, it is the case of horizontal proliferation but when a nuclear power state goes on adding to its nuclear arsenal, the case is of vertical proliferation.
But after Second World War, the world which had experienced the catastrophic effect of atom bomb embarked on the path not to have repetition of nuclear history. After many years of futile discussions a series of substantial developments got its origin and the process yield a very important and relevant treaty in 1968 known as Non-Proliferation Treaty.
This treaty prohibits further spread of nuclear weapons. The decade of 1970 which was declared as disarmament decade by United Nations had an auspicious starting by having 43 countries ratifying the treaty.
The one prominent aspects of the treaty is that it professes for a world where five countries i.e. USA, China, Britain, France, Russia would have nuclear weapons and rest of the countries would be devoid of it, as the proliferation of nuclear weapon is prohibited under the treaty. It is tantamount to nuclear hegemony creating an inequality in the world order.
India has argued that it can become a part of treaty but first there should be complete disarmament. Despite several resolutions and treaties, no substantial development has been done by nuclear weapons states. It is also a matter of great concern to India’s security as China and Pakistan are nuclear states. The Government of India is in favour of expansion of exclusive club of nuclear power by induction of it.
According to India’s stand Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is an unequal and discriminatory Treaty which imposes stringent restrictions and curbs on non-nuclear weapon states but it leaves the nuclear weapon powers free from any legal and time bound obligation to stop proliferation. It also does not include taking steps to reduce their nuclear arsenals. It also device the right to peaceful nuclear explosions by non-nuclear weapons states.
Accordingly in India’s view, the treaty is discriminatory, unrealistic, ineffective and therefore unacceptable to India. India’s concern has been two, one freedom to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and two its national security.
India was faced not only with the situation of nuclear proliferation world over but also in its own neighbourhood-first in China and then in Pakistan. At the same time both the countries are hostile to India. All these factors posed a threat to India’s security and signing on the treaty would adversely affect India’s interest.
In spite of all, the structural weakness of the NPT are:-
(a) The imbalance in the distribution of obligations and benefits between the nuclear weapon powers and non-nuclear weapon states.
(b) The omission of any reference to the vertical proliferation in the treaty.
(c) The omission of nuclear security guarantees to non-nuclear weapon states.
(d) The fragile UN resolution on nuclear security guarantee in 1968.
(e) The technological denials embodied in the discriminatory provisions regarding safeguards, right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy and right to peaceful nuclear explosives.