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Why India Cannot Sign Non-Proliferation Treaty

why india cannot sign non-proliferation treaty

Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons or its technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament.

The biggest incentive of NPT, due to which a large number of countries have signed it, is the agreement that the nuclear countries would share "peaceful nuclear technology" with the non-nuclear countries so that they can be able to produce nuclear energy domestically and use nuclear material for other peaceful purposes.

This treaty was formalised in 1968 and those states that have detonated nuclear weapon before that were recognised as nuclear weapon state. As only five countries at that time have formally detonated their nuclear weapon successfully, this treaty recognizes these five countries - United States, Soviet Union (Russia), France, United Kingdom and China - as nuclear power.

India conducted its first nuke test in 1974, so technically the only option left for India to sign NPT is to sign as a non-nuclear weapon state. While India fully supports the objectives of NPT, that is, of not letting nuclear weapons to proliferate, but the security threats emanating from its surrounding nuclear neighbours - Pakistan and China - that have fought wars with India in the past, cannot allow India to even think of giving up its nuclear weapon.

Therefore, India's position on NPT becomes simple-yet-complicated. India supports complete disarmament with the belief that no state should possess the weapon of mass destruction. But, a country brandishing its nuclear weapon cannot deny other nations their right to possess nuclear weapons for security. In short, India considers NPT as a discriminatory treaty framed in the interests of only a few nations.

India may appear to be a hypocrite as it supports disarmament but not ready to give up its own weapon of mass destruction. There is a story behind it. In 1971 Indo-Pak war, the west tried to force a ceasefire on India by giving a nuclear threat. This raised huge concern for India and highlighted how a nuclear power can manipulate a conflict between two non-nuclear states according to their selfish goals.

India's first nuclear weapon was named ‘Smiling Buddha’ because like Buddha - a global symbol of peace - India's aim with its nuclear project, too, was peace. It clearly reflects from India's conduct within nuclear domain ever since it became a nuclear power.

Few nations cannot form a clique and decide the fate of other nations. These five ‘recognized’ nuclear states have to give up their nuclear weapons. Only then, there can be a ‘complete disarmament’. And in such a scenario, India has no problem in giving up its nukes and signing NPT because of its solemn resolve for a nuclear-weapon-free world.

In 1945, America used it for the first time against Japan. They didn't get any proper retaliation at that time. But things have drastically changed post-1945. This is an era of nuclear deterrence. It might seem to have brought peace, but in this nuclear-dominated world, one wrong step can unleash a nuclear war to be remembered for centuries.

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