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Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Now, I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” ― Robert Oppenheimer


The end of World War II introduced the world to the horrors of nuclear weapons. The world's first and last nuclear strike, which the world has not forgotten, was launched against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States. This was a watershed moment in history because it demonstrated to the world just how terrible nuclear technology can be for the entire human race.

By the early 1960s, nuclear weapons technology had the potential for coming into widespread use. The science of splitting and fusing atoms had made its way into popular literature via academic journals, and nuclear technology was no longer exclusive to governments alone, but also made it to private corporations.

Plutonium, the core of nuclear weapons, was becoming more accessible and less expensive to process. As a result of these changes, the world had five nuclear powers by 1964, in addition to the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom, which all acquired nuclear capability during or shortly after World War II, France detonated its first nuclear bomb in 1960, and the People's Republic of China followed suit in 1964.

Numerous additional countries had not yet conducted weapons tests but were technologically advanced enough to do so quickly if they chose to. To Balance the terror, states have entered into an arms race to acquire nuclear weapons. There can be no room for error with this lethal technology, as it might jeopardize our very survival. As a result, this race sparked widespread concern among policymakers worldwide, prompting the drafting of a non-proliferation treaty.

The Treaty

The NPT is a landmark international treaty its goal is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to foster cooperation on peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to advance the goal of nuclear disarmament and total disarmament. The Treaty represents the only binding commitment. It prohibits the acquisition and production of nuclear weapons by non-nuclear states. A tougher issue was how to bring non-nuclear nations into compliance with the proposed treaty. Nations that had not yet acquired nuclear weapons technology were essentially asked to abandon all plans to do so.

Evaluation and India’s opposition

The dominant Indian narrative has been to project the 'discriminatory' nature of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as the reason for its persistent opposition and to argue that the treaty, as drafted by the then-superpowers, cannot facilitate disarmament and can only sustain a world of nuclear 'haves' and 'have-nots'.

It does not appear to be created to put an end to nuclear proliferation; rather, it appears to be drafted with the intention of preserving the nuclear hegemony of the so-called nuclear powers.

It stops horizontal proliferation rather than vertical proliferation and hence is not a true disarmament deal. Vertical proliferation is described as the advancement or modernisation of a nation-nuclear state's arsenal, whereas horizontal proliferation is defined as the direct or indirect transfer of technologies across nations, resulting in the more advanced development and proliferation of nuclear weapons. It is slanted in favour of the then-superpowers and does not appear to be unbiased or genuine.

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