India Test Ban Treaty banning nuclear tests in

India has always been in favour of total and universal disarmament and elimination of nuclear weapons. Since 1954 India has been making fervent appeals to the community of nations to achieve total disarmament within a time frame and has never been a party to partial, discriminatory and hegemonic disarmament pacts and treaties, in 1953 the US, UK, and the USSR signed the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty banning nuclear tests in outer space, in the deep sea and sea-beds, However, China and France did not sign it. In 1958 the Nuclear, non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was signed In the UN and was endorsed by over 100 nations, however India did not sign it on the grounds that it was hegemonic and discriminatory. Besides India, Israel and Pakistan remained outside the NPT regime. Pakistan did not sign it because India did not.

And so the NPT failed in its declared aim of universal membership of the treaty. The major aim of NPT was to prevent the spread of nuclear technology to non-nuclear States. In 1974 India successfully conducted its first nuclear test at Pokhran in Rajasthan. Since then India has kept its nuclear options open refusing to submit to any regional or global regime that limits India’s nuclear weapon options. India believes that any nuclear regime is unacceptable which does not envisage total disarmament by the nuclear powers. India does not favour any pact, treaty or instrument that aims at only nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and not at universal disarmament. Initially in the years 1993-94, when the negotiation began for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), India supported it whole- heatedly, but since then India has come a long way and realized how not to compromise its own security needs being surrounded by hostile and powerful neighbours.

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Consequently, in August 1996, India blocked the CTBT by vetoing it in the Disarmament Conference held at Geneva. The 61-nation conference wanted to send the Treaty to the UN for signing by the member nations, but India’s vetoing made it impossible. The CTBT was them presented before the UN in September 1996 at its 51st session. Australia took the initiative and Denmark prepared the draft and it was approved by the majority of 158 member nations in spite of India’s opposition. Besides India, Bhutan and Libya also opposed it, and Cuba, Lebanon, Mauritius, Tanzania and Syria abstained from voting. The American President Bill Clinton was the first to sign it followed by others. India did not sign CTBT on many important grounds, firstly, the nuclear powers failed to make any commitment to a time bound programme for elimination of their nuclear weapons and universal disarmament. Secondly, India needed safeguards and nuclear option.

Thirdly, it was hypocritical and discriminatory. The 5 nuclear powers conducted 2,045 nuclear tests between 1945 and 1996 and then came with the proposal of CTBT asking others to desist from nuclear tests. CTBT prohibits all States, except the 5 big ones, from acquiring, manufacturing, testing, deploying and transferring of nuclear arsenals. India’s refusal to sign CTBT makes it categorically clear that she is not ready to accept the treaty in its present form and that she is not prepared to give up its independent nuclear policy in spite of great pressure from powerful nations led by the US- India as a threshold nuclear power finds the Treaty discriminatory arid against its own security needs. CTBT allows the nuclear powers to have computer-simulation tests in nuclear labs.

These powers have already acquired the technology that enables them to have simulated nuclear tests in lab conditions. The nuclear haves can also exchange the nuclear technology among themselves and build far more dangerous and devastating arsenals when they wish and their economies allow. Thus, the CTBT unjustly maintains the status quo which is not acceptable to India. But there are many who favour the signing of the Treaty on the ground that there are many serious logistical and financial problems to be overcome before India can test a nuclear weapon superior to its first bomb tested in 1974 at Pokhran.

If India carried such a test it would be immediately detected by a vast network of 170 seismological monitoring stations, 80 radionuclide detection centres, 60 infrasound and hydro acoustic stations spread throughout the globe. Moreover, India would have to carry a series of such tests to make the weapon effective and deployable. And all this would result in strong world disapproval, condemnation and criticism besides economic restrictions and halt of financial aid and assistance to the country. CTBT does not impinge on our sovereignty. And then there is a clause in the CTBT which allows a member nation to withdraw after a six-month notice, if the member nation feels extraordinary events, circumstances are jeopardizing its supreme interests.

They aver that in this era of globalization, it is not only the political power of the nuclear States of the West but also their economic power that can be brought to bear upon our emerging economy. Why to spend so much political capital for a nuclear option which India may possibly not use, they ask.


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