The U.S.A. had dropped atom bombs in Japan. It was the complete destruction of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the nuclear weapons in August 1945 that made the world shiver over the possibility of complete destruction of earth by the use of the nuclear weapons.
After the Second World War both the USA and the erstwhile USSR, amassed deadly nuclear weapons, which were estimated to be enough to destroy this earth many times all over again? The nuclear policy was referred to as the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), which implied that both the power blocs assured each other that in case they were attacked with nuclear weapons they would retaliate in the same fashion.
After the decade of seventies, better sense prevailed and both the sides understood the need for bringing a halt to logic of balance of terror behind the MAD policy. Both the countries embarked upon the programme of either limiting their unclear arsenal or reducing the number of such weapons by actually destroying some of these.
The nuclear power countries also came forward with a policy of signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by all the countries. The NPT envisaged that there would be no proliferation of nuclear capabilities to the non-nuclear countries like India, that were proposed to be barred from acquiring nuclear capabilities, while the proposed treaty did not envisage any limit on the nuclear weapons on production and acquisition of the same by the nuclear powers themselves. Disintegration of the USSR in the early nineties changed the nuclear scenario in the world.
While Russia inherited most of the nuclear warheads and capabilities of the erstwhile USSR, it no longer had the international stature comparable to that of the USSR. Resultantly, the US emerged even stronger and pushed the idea of Complete Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in place of NPT.
Though the Indian stand on CTBT has not been much different that the one on NPT, yet India has started considering the possibility of signing the CTBT with more open mind. Immediately after taking over, US President Bush indicated his willingness to move away from the traditional policy of MAD. To indicate his sincerity to the world, he spoke of willingness of USA to reduce its arsenal from the existing 7,500 nuclear warheads to 2,000,
Though some feel that the move is actually aimed at replacing the obsolete unclear weapons with the modern ones, yet most of the countries in the world, including India, believe the sincerity of President Bush’s announcements. He further announced that the US wanted to go in for defence oriented nuclear weapon designs.
$200 billion National Missile Defence (NMD) System proposed by the US aims at protecting the US and its allies against any possible nuclear attack from any quarter. The NMD system would consist of a multilayer shield of satellites, aircraft, missiles and ships to detect any enemy ballistic missile and destroy it in the flight itself. The new NMD system is still in the infancy stage and may take about three years to crystallise into an effective interceptive missile capability.
As a change from the past trends, Russia is not averse to the NMD system but has certain reservations about the resultant unilateral abandoning of the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty with USA. China is one country that is opposed to the US move, as it would render 20 odd nuclear warheads of China ineffective against the US. A strong Chinese reaction may result in an arms race between India and China. Still, NMD is a defensive initiative and may discourage the production and development of offensive nuclear weapons in the world.