By: Dr. Rajkumar Singh
After explosion of nuclear device in 1964, and around the years 1965-68 there was tremendous pressure built up at home against the discriminatory provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Most of the members of the Indian Parliament were in favour of India not signing the proliferation treaty. Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, remarked in the House during the discussion, ‘Mankind today is at the cross- roads of nuclear peace and nuclear war. There can be no doubt that we should take the road to nuclear peace. But the first step in this direction is yet in sight. It is vitally important, therefore, for the nuclear weapon powers to undertake as soon as possible meaningful negotiations on a series of measures leading to nuclear disarmament…… This is a situation which cannot be viewed with equanimity by non-nuclear countries, e sp e c i al ly as t h e y a r e ca l le d upo n t o unde r t ake n o t t o manufacture or acquire nuclear weapons for their own defence’.
Dilemmas at national level
Everyone, whether for or against India’s nuclear-weapons option, opposed the NPT. The anti-proliferation regime that the NPT sought to establish was anathema to the more articulate section of the Indian elite. However, the final decision not to subscribe to the NPT was taken in April-May 1967. C.S. Jha, the the n F o re ign Se cre tary o f Indi a, sai d that security consideration was an important factor in reaching that decision; for the decision was taken after the visit of the then Secretary to the Prime Minister L.K. Jha, to Moscow, Washington and London and C.S. Jha’s visit to Geneva had confirmed in April, 1967 that credible guarantees against nuclear attack and nuclear blackmail were not available. The Indian approach under Indira Gandhi sought only to redefine the concept of nuclear proliferation. It demanded control on the race for nuclear a r m s a m o n g t h e f i v e n u c l e a r – w e a p o n s p o w e r ( v e r t i c a l proliferation) and on the spread of nuclear weapons (horizontal proliferation) simultaneously. Even thereafter India continued to support measure which were designed to control the race for nuclear arms, like the comprehe nsive test ban, re gional denuclearisation and even non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, if the Indian definition was accepted to the rest of the world.
Discriminatory nature of the treaty
F o r l o n g , I n d i a ’ s f o c u s p r i m a r i l y r e v o l v e d a r o u n d t h e c o m m i t m e n t s t o w a r d s g e n e r a l a n d c o m p l e t e n u c l e a r disarmament as well as on the discriminatory nature of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Great Powers converted, as Subrahmanyam argued, the NPT into licensing unlimited nuclear proliferation to the five nuclear weapon powers with a total ban on acquisition of nuclear weapons by all other nations. India argued that it was not willing to be a party to an inherently di- s c r i m i n a t o r y t r e a t y , w h i c h i n s t i t u t i o n a l i s e d n u c l e a r apartheid. Several provisions of the NPT were criticised by the non- nuclear weapon countries of Third World including India. The reasons why India has refused to sign the Treaty are many: Firstly, so far, nuclear weapon powers have not ceased the arms race and there were no sign, that they are going to do so in future. Secondly, the United States and Britain have not submitted as the non-proliferation treaty says that non-nuclear
cannot be viewed with equanimity by non-nuclear countries, e sp e c i al ly as t h e y a r e ca l le d u po n t o u nd e r t ak e n o t t o manufacture or acquire nuclear weapons for their own defence’. Thirdly, countries who will become members of the treaty will be favoured with regard to the supply of nuclear technology and material, but they have not yet been the exclusive beneficiaries of such aid and trade. Fourthly, Articles 1 and 2 of the treaty concerning transfers and safeguards are extremely unfair to non-nuclear weapons powers. The nuclear powers are free to transfer nuclear weapons and explosive devices and even to encourage each other to acquire and manufacture nuclear weapons. While this is not applicable to the non-nuclear weapons countries. They can only receive nuclear material and equipment under rules. In another discriminatory provision of the treaty the benefit from nuclear explosion would be made available to treaty partners at a low cost. Needless to say not benefits have such been made available to non-nuclear countries. The promise of protection for non-nuclear countries is also valueless. Therefore, in its early phase the non-proliferation treaty fell short of all reasonable expectations as a disarmament measure.
Confusions prevailed in South Asia
Above all the Indian Government felt that America was trying to prevent India from becoming an autonomous nuclear power. Opposition members in India felt that America was trying to blackmail India. In fact both the super powers did not want a nuclear proliferation in South Asia. But at the same time, the United States had been conniving at Pakistan’s bomb-making by waiving the Symington Amendment. When the Soviet Union warned General Zia not to go in for nuclear weapons programme, the United States issued a stern warning to Moscow to keep its hands off Pakistan. The danger of a nuclear war exists more amongst the smaller nations than amongst the super powers. The smaller nations can be provoked into using the nuclear weapons as the last alternative to national demise. In the situation India’s upcoming stature of becoming a major regional power and super power is not to the liking of the US. India’s stand of not signing to NPT and of late Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and successfully developing indigenous technology as regard nuclear reactors and nuclear fuel, thereby reducing its dependence upon them, adds to their discomfiture. When the first nuclear test was successfully carried out at Pokharan in 1974, and 1998, when five nuclear tests were conducted, India had proved the success of its indigenous nuclear technology giving it self-reliance as well as self- confidence despite sanctions imposed on India since 1974 through Nuclear Supplier’s Group and other sanction methods. The Kabul Times