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Russia blocks agreement on UN nuclear treaty

  • Category
    International Relations
  • Published
    2nd Sep, 2022

Context

Russia has blocked the adoption of a joint declaration by a United Nations conference on nuclear disarmament.

About

  • The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is reviewed by its 191 signatories every five years.
  • It aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.
  • The final document needed the approval of all countries at the conference that are parties to the treaty aimed at curbing the spread of nuclear weapons and ultimately achieving a world without them.

Analysis

Why there is opposition to banning nuclear armament? (The Second Failure)

  • The NPT review conference is supposed to be held every five years but was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • This marked the second failure of its 191 state parties to produce an outcome document.

Under the NPT's provisions, the five original nuclear powers — the United States, China, Russia (then the Soviet Union), Britain, and France — agreed to negotiate toward eliminating their arsenals someday and nations without nuclear weapons promised not to acquire them in exchange for a guarantee to be able to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

  • The last review conference in 2015 ended without an agreementbecause of serious differences over establishing a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction.
  • The issue that changed the dynamics of the conference was Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which brought Russian President Vladimir Putin's warning that Russia is a “potent” nuclear power and that any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences”.
  • Although later, he rolled back by saying that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”.

Global fears of nuclear emergency (Russia-Ukraine War)

  • Russia's occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plantin south-eastern Ukraine as well as the takeover of the Chernobyl nuclear plant has renewed global fears of another nuclear emergency.
  • The Zaporizhzhia plant was temporarily disconnectedfrom the power grid, raising fears of a possible radiation disaster.
  • The draft final document recognizes Ukraine's loss of controland the International Atomic Energy Agency's inability to ensure the plant's nuclear material is safeguarded. It has also expressed grave concern for military activities.

India’s stand on Nuclear weapons

  • India remains committed to the policy of No First Use(NFU) against nuclear weapon states and non-use against non-nuclear-weapon states.
  • The recent stand indicates that India has not revised its key principles regarding the NFU principle.
  • In 2019, the defence minister hinted at the possibility of changing the principle by declaring that‘circumstances’ will determine the “No First Use” stance.
  • India is a key partner in global efforts toward disarmament andstrengthening the non-proliferation order.
  • India believes that nuclear disarmament can beachieved through a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed multilateral framework after meaningful dialogues among all States possessing nuclear weapons, for building trust and confidence.

Global Negotiations

  • TheConference on Disarmament (CD) remains the “world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum” and India supports holding of negotiations on a Comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention at the CD.
  • India also remains committed to negotiations regarding aFissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) in the CD.
  • FMCT is aproposed international agreement that prohibits the production of two main components of nuclear weapons: highly-enriched Uranium and Plutonium.
  • The consultations under the treaty laid down the most appropriate arrangement to negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

Conclusion

Before the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was opened for signature in 1968, India announced that it would not sign the treaty. India couched its rejection in universal terms, essentially challenging other countries to reject it on the same basis.

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