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Before the world could witness the fruits of atomic power, disaster unleashed by the atomic bombs in Japan exposed the horrific power of atom. After the atomic attack, within a week Japan conceded its defeat and within couple of months, Second World War was finished. Clout of a nuclear weapon state was visible and every nation aspired to become a nuclear weapon state. By 1960s, the role of nuclear weapon state in international geo-politics was clear and so was the situation if every nation becomes a nuclear weapon state. So there was a race between nations to acquire nuclear weapons; nuclear non–Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was devised as a full stop to that treaty.
The NPT was signed on July 1, 1968 and the then US President called it the most important international agreement since the beginning of nuclear age. A total of 190 parties have joined the Treaty, including the five nuclear-weapon States: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China (also the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council). More countries have ratified the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement, a testament to the Treaty's significance. Five non-parties to the treaty are known or believed to possess nuclear weapons: India, Pakistan and North Korea have openly tested and declared that they possess nuclear weapons, while Israel has had a policy of opacity regarding its own nuclear weapons programme.
Another non-signatory Cuba is not supposed to possess nuclear weapons. The treaty is reviewed every five years in meetings called Review Conferences of the Parties to the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Even though the treaty was originally conceived with a limited duration of 25 years, the signing parties decided, by consensus, to extend the treaty indefinitely and without conditions during the Review Conference in New York City on May 11, 1995.
It might be the most important agreement but it is not the best agreement to ensure nuclear peace which is made evident by the nuclear tests in India, Pakistan and North Korea, secret Nuclear weapons programme of Iran etc. Moreover, it is not able to limit the nuclear proliferation as nuclear weapons of Israel are alleged to be secretly developed by US, The treaty hovers around the three integrated goals of disarmament, non proliferation and peaceful use but treaty failed in all the three goals but all the three goals are not achieved.
India and NPT
India has not signed the NPT on plea that it is discriminatory in nature. India supports the full nuclear disarmament of globe where as NPT on one hand allows the accumulation of nuclear weapons by five countries and the rest of the world is not allowed to have nuclear weapons. It puts rest of world in a constant danger from the five nuclear weapon states. When a neighbor, with whom relations are not friendly, possess nuclear weapon, it is indeed a potent danger for such country and this is the case with India whose neighbor China is a nuclear weapon state.
In 1974, India conducted its first nuclear test which India described as a "peaceful" explosion. The United States and other countries that produced nuclear technology formed the Nuclear Supplier's Group (NSG). The goal of the NSG was to prevent exports of commercial and civilian nuclear and dual-use technologies from being diverted to the weapons programs of other countries. For 30 years, U.S.-India nuclear technology transfers stopped. And India developed its nuclear technology in isolation.
Nevertheless, New Delhi did not stop its nuclear weapons programs. At the end of the Cold War, India's patron, the Soviet Union, was gone, the Indian economy was a crumbling socialist relic, and China was the new emerging power. To reas¬sert itself on the world stage, India embarked on an effort to reform its economy in 1991, began court¬ing a closer relationship with the United States, and tested its nuclear weapons again in 1998 as a dem¬onstration of strength.
Although the test brought another storm of international condemnation, both the Bush and Clinton Administrations soon began to seek out ways to cooperate with India as a friendly, de facto nuclear power that shared Ameri¬can values and interests. In the past, the U.S. has withheld nuclear coop¬eration from and has severely limited defense coop¬eration with countries openly seeking nuclear weapons, including India. The new willingness of the U.S. to engage in cooperative activities in the civilian nuclear power field with a state outside of the NPT raises questions about the future of U.S. nuclear nonproliferation policy
The first decade of 21st century saw major changes in the international geopolitics and closer relationship between India and US and they sought an agreement unprecedented in the history where nuclear cooperation with between India and US was established despite being a non signatory of NPT. Moreover, an exception clause in NSG act was introduced and legal hurdles for nuclear cooperation with India were removed.
Later, apart from US, India signed such agreements with Russia, France and Kazakhstan also and the nuclear isolation of India came to an end Although not a signatory of the NPT, India has no record of proliferating nuclear technology to other countries, while China, nuclear-weapon state, is suspected of sharing nuclear weapons technology with both Paki¬stan and North Korea. Pakistan has admitted to sharing nuclear technology with North Korea, Libya, and Iran. Russia is also bargain¬ing to sell nuclear technology to Iran, a coun¬try that is known to be violating its NPT safeguards agreement.
Future of NPT
A growing number of states today believe that NPT is being applied unevenly and that the nuclear powers do not intend to fulfill their end of the NPT bargain which is nuclear disarmament on their part. This has led the non-nuclear-weapon-state majority to become less willing to agree to further measures that would strengthen the treaty and the nonproliferation regime.
Once in every five year, signatories of NPT meet in annual review conference to strengthen the NPT regime. Last such conference was held in 2010 in New York. Despite the continued tension between nuclear-weapon-state demands for additional nonproliferation commitments and non-nuclear-weapon-state demands for more disarmament progress, states were willing and able to compromise on a complex agenda of issues and come to unanimous agreement.
In the run-up to the conference, there were many disagreements among participating countries. States still found a way to negotiate constructively and employed pragmatic approaches to issues such as North Korea’s withdrawal and nuclear testing, Iran’s non-compliance, steps toward the WMD-free zone in the Middle East, and further progress on disarmament, any one of which could have scuttled the proceedings.
In this backdrop, 2010 review conference of NPT was considered to be a hard bargain but it is worth noticing that members reached consensus and came out successfully with a final document which means that world is serious about making the earth free of nuclear weapons.
It is up to all states to ensure that the hard-fought consensus of the review conference does not become meaningless through a lack of implementation.
There is a long race ahead, and starting immediately, all states have obligations. Their actions to fulfill these obligations will be measured, and they will be held accountable. They should start now to resolve the challenges identified and not wait until 2015 when another reprieve may be less likely.