The NPT as a Roadblock to Disarmament

The signing of the Nuclear Mon-Proliferation Treaty forty years ago turned out to be a curse for humanity. Its worse feature was that it succeeded in diverting attention away from the goal of general and complete disarmament. Under the cover of the NPT, both USA and USSR unleashed a mindless nuclear arms race and were, therefore, equally guilty of perpetrating a fraud on humanity. It is high time that the essence of the McCloy-Zorin Accord of 1961 and the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan of 1988 are resurrected and the issue of general and complete disarmament brought back as the central agenda of the UN.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was signed on July 1, 1968 by the USA, USSR and UK. Subsequently, the NPT was opened for signature by other countries and it entered into force on March 5, 1970. [1] Till date, except India, Pakistan and Israel, all the other 189 member-countries of the UN have signed it. However, North Korea, which had ratified the treaty on  December 12, 1985, withdrew from it on 10 April 2003 and, thereby, became the first and only country to do so as on date. Also, while racist South Africa joined the NPT in 1991, it confessed in 1993 that it had secretly pursued a nuclear weapons program between 1974 and 1990 but had dismantled its nuclear weapons and abandoned the program just before signing the NPT.

For its refusal to sign the NPT, India drew much criticism from a substantial section of the global peace movement – Japanese, European, North American, Australian, etc. They were of the view that India’s opposition to the NPT was just a cover for harboring its desire to join the nuclear weapon club. However, India’s official position was that the NPT was a discriminatory treaty and hence India would not have anything to do with such an inequitable treaty. Pakistan’s position has always been that it is willing to sign the NPT provided India signed it first. After India and Pakistan conducted nuclear weapon tests in 1998, India appears to have indicated that it was not averse to joining the NPT as a nuclear weapon state – a position completely contrary to its earlier principled stand. Israel, as always, continues to be enigmatic about its nuclear weapon program. The attempt here is to examine the controversy surrounding the NPT and its actual impact on addressing the issue of disarmament, especially nuclear disarmament.


INDIA and the NPT

Few people are aware that India was one of the countries that had vociferously supported the proposal against proliferation of nuclear weapons when the treaty was being drafted. In fact, the resolution on “A Treaty to Prevent the Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons” was first proposed by India and seven other non-aligned counties, which the UN General Assembly adopted as Resolution No.2028 (XX) on 19 November 1965. Therefore, what need to be examined are the reasons as to why India, which had proposed a resolution against proliferation of nuclear weapons in 1965, had opposed the NPT in 1968? The reasons behind India’s opposition to the NPT in its present form could be found in the text of the said UN Resolution.

Clause 2 of the resolution clearly states that an international treaty to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons should be based on the following main principles:

a) “The treaty should be void of any loop-holes which might permit nuclear or non-nuclear Powers to proliferate, directly or indirectly, nuclear weapons in any form;

b) The treaty should embody an acceptable balance of mutual responsibilities and obligations of the nuclear and non-nuclear Powers;

c)  The treaty should be a step towards the achievement of general and complete disarmament;”  [2]

India refused to sign the NPT precisely because the said three sub-clauses of Clause 2 of the said UN Resolution were either consciously omitted from the NPT text or were effectively undermined, thereby, making the NPT in its present form not only discriminatory but also largely worthless. The essential difference between the said UN Resolution, which was adopted in 1965, and the NPT, which was signed in 1968, are as follows:

a) While the said UN Resolution had opposed both vertical as well as horizontal proliferation, the NPT was opposed only to horizontal proliferation and, thus, paved the way for unbridled vertical proliferation by the nuclear weapon Powers;

b) While responsibilities and obligations on nuclear and non-nuclear weapon Powers were on an equal footing in the said UN Resolution, in the NPT the stipulations were different for both and were weighed completely in favour of nuclear weapon Powers, i.e., in favour of those nations that had conducted nuclear weapon tests before 1967;

c)  Article VI of the NPT only entailed each of the Parties to the Treaty to pursue negotiations “in good faith” for proceeding towards the goal of general and complete disarmament. That is, unlike the rigorous conditions attached to Article III to ensure that non-nuclear weapon states would not join the nuclear weapon club, no such stringent measures were attached to Article VI to ensure that the nuclear weapon Powers took effective steps to curb the nuclear arms race.

It is pertinent to note that had the NPT included the crucial sub-clauses from the said UN Resolution of 1965, the nuclear arms race would have been contained in 1968 itself. The vast majority of the UN members had supported the proposals on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons that India and seven other non-aligned countries had placed before the UN General Assembly in 1965. It is the subsequent refusal of USA, USSR and UK to accede to the said considered proposals, which resulted in the acceleration of the nuclear arms race since 1968. Indeed, if the principles enunciated in the said UN Resolution had been incorporated in the NPT, there would have been no excuse or perceived need for India to conduct nuclear tests in 1974 or in 1998. Under the circumstances, USA, Russia and UK have no moral right to criticise India for conducting nuclear tests in 1998. However, this does not mean that India had the moral right to conduct nuclear tests either in 1974 or in 1998. Moreover, India’s reported desire to join the NPT as a nuclear weapon state makes a complete mockery of its earlier principled stand.

Eclipse of McCloy-Zorin Accord

Ever since the signing of the NPT in 1968, drawing non-nuclear weapon states into the net of non-proliferation has been the primary agenda of the nuclear weapon states and of a sizable section of the global peace movement as well. There was a tacit understanding by the three nuclear weapon powers – USA, USSR and UK – that those countries that had tested nuclear weapons before 1967 – which included France and China – would not only have the “right” to possess nuclear weapons but also would be free to indulge in unbridled vertical proliferation. Needless to add, there was no provision in the NPT that prohibited the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states; in fact, USA, UK, France (and Russia from 1993) have always claimed the right of first use of nuclear weapons against any adversary, including non-nuclear weapon states, at will. (While Israel is non-committal on the matter, China, India and Pakistan have given unilateral undertaking not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states. Furthermore, while China and India have given unilateral pledges not to use nuclear weapons first, Pakistan has maintained a studied silence on the issue.)

The utterly false propaganda waged by the USA and USSR regarding the efficacy of the NPT in addressing the issue of disarmament had dramatic impact on changing the course of the global peace movement. Neither the U.S. nor the USSR seems to have had any compunction in seeking to quietly bury the historic McCloy-Zorin Accord of 20 September 1961 and in adopting a patently discriminatory NPT with two different sets of obligations: pliable obligations for the nuclear weapons states and inviolable obligations for the non-nuclear weapon states! Neither the U.S. nor the USSR has offered any explanation till date as to why the McCloy-Zorin Accord was summarily abandoned.

The McCloy-Zorin Accord on General and Complete Disarmament [3], which was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 December 1961 through Resolution No. 1722 (XVI), was the most momentous achievement in the annals of disarmament negotiations. The McCloy-Zorin Accord set forth eight principles. The preamble of the Accord states that: “The United States and the USSR have agreed to recommend the following principles as the basis for future multilateral negotiations on disarmament and to call upon other States to cooperate in reaching early agreement on general and complete disarmament in a peaceful world in accordance with these principles.”  The said eight principles on which negotiations were to be based were as follows:

·    War should no longer be an instrument for settling international disputes;

·    Disbandment of armed forces;

·    Dismantling of military establishments including bases;

·    Cessation of arms production; liquidation of armaments, or their conversion for peaceful purposes;

·    Elimination of all stockpiles of nuclear, chemical, bacteriological and other weapons of mass destruction as well as their means of delivery;

·    Abolition of military institutions; cessation of military training and the discontinuance of military expenditures;

·    Disarmament program to be implemented in stages within specified time limits until completion; and

·    No State or group of States to gain military advantage over another.”

The global peace movement could not have dreamed of more radical disarmament proposals than those stated above! Since both USA and USSR had agreed to these proposals, the implications were truly revolutionary. Subsequently, the newly formed Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee (ENDC) – comprising five nations from NATO, five from the Warsaw Pact and eight from the non-aligned nations, including India – began its meetings at Geneva under the aegis of the UNGA on 14 March 1962 to effectuate the McCloy-Zorin Accord. On 15 March 1962, the USSR submitted its ‘Draft treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict international control’ [4], while the U.S., on 18 April 1962, submitted its ‘Outline of basic provisions of a treaty on general and complete disarmament in a peaceful world’ [5]. Concurrently, on 20 March 1962, the ENDC decided to set up a sub-committee composed of USA, USSR and UK to consider a treaty on discontinuance of nuclear weapon tests. However, the negotiations were rudely interrupted by the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. [6]

Reduction In Hostility

Following the amicable resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a perceptible reduction in hostility between the U.S. and the USSR was noticeable from the conciliatory speech that President John F. Kennedy delivered on 10 June 1963 at the American University, Washington, D.C.
Emphasizing the importance of pursuing the goal of “world peace”, President Kennedy said:

(a) “I have… chosen this time and this place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth is too rarely perceived – yet it is the most important topic on earth: world peace.”

(b) “What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace – the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living … not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women – not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.”

(c) “While we proceed to safeguard our national interests, let us also safeguard human interests. And the elimination of war and arms is clearly in the interest of both.”

(d) “Confident and unafraid, we labor on – not toward a strategy of annihilation but toward a strategy of peace.” [7]

President Kennedy’s historic speech, which hardly found a mention in the U.S. media, was well publicized in the USSR. Within days, a memorandum was signed between the two major nuclear powers for establishing a direct communication line as part of measures to reduce the risk of war by accident, miscalculation or failure of communications. Known as the “Hotline Agreement”, it was signed on 20 June 1963 at the ongoing Geneva talks.

Shortly afterwards, negotiations began in Moscow on 15 July 1963 supposedly for concluding a comprehensive test ban treaty. However, ten days later, on 25 July 1963, the three parties at the talks – USA, UK and USSR – agreed to conclude a Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT), which outlawed nuclear weapon tests in the atmosphere, in outer space, and under water, while permitting underground ones. The three parties signed the PTBT – also known as Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT) – on 05 August 1963 with much euphoria. Although the U.S. Senate ratified the LTBT on 24 September 1963, about one-fifth of the senators opposed it on the ground that the LTBT had compromised USA’s national security.

In the background of the Cuban Missile crisis, the PTBT may have been signed in good faith in order to allay fears of a nuclear conflagration. However, from hindsight, it appears that in effect the signing of the PTBT constituted a retrograde step and a great betrayal of the peace movement. The signing of the PTBT – instead of the much-awaited comprehensive test ban treaty – not only succeeded in disrupting the powerful global peace movement but also misled the world into believing that the PTBT, which merely pushed the conduct of nuclear tests underground, was a significant step in the direction of nuclear disarmament. Indeed, nothing was farther from the truth! The peace loving people were so eager for some kind of agreement between the two adversaries that the majority of them were easily taken in by the rhetoric of the PTBT. The signing of the PTBT signalled the abandonment of the drive towards disarmament and led to the adoption of the convenient concept of “non-proliferation” (which only meant horizontal non-proliferation) ostensibly to stem the spread of nuclear weapons.

Percept & Practice

The speed at which the goal of general and complete disarmament was jettisoned and the issue of “non-proliferation” attained centre stage within the dominant sections of the global peace movement was truly amazing. It was as though this section of the peace movement was completely mesmerised by the false promises of the NPT. The partisan role that the International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) was made to play is notable too. The entire focus of the IAEA, which was entrusted with special powers under Article III of the NPT, was to monitor whether non-nuclear weapon member-states of the NPT were violating the terms of the treaty.  However, neither the IAEA nor any other agency was entrusted with similar powers to monitor activities of nuclear weapon member-states of the NPT regarding implementation of Article VI of the NPT. Thus, the IAEA was forced to adopt double standards vis-à-vis non-nuclear weapon states and nuclear weapon states.

Moreover, at the time of signing the NPT in 1968, the global nuclear weapon stockpile was approximately 39,202. Despite Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties (SALT I & II) of 1972 & 1979, the nuclear weapon stockpile actually peaked to a high of 69,490 by 1986.[8] These facts amply prove that the NPT had absolutely no impact on the attitude of the nuclear weapon powers; there was no compelling pressure on them to curb the nuclear arms race. It was only with the resurrection of the global peace movement and the subsequent signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in 1987 that the nuclear weapon stockpile marginally reduced to 56,396 by 1991. While older and less potent nuclear weapons were removed through the much-publicized arms control treaties, newer and more potent ones were quietly added to the stockpile! It is primarily due to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 – more than any other factor – that has resulted in a relative reduction in the nuclear stockpile, which was still very high and reportedly around 26,854 in 2006. [9]

That apart, according to a report in New Scientist of September 2005, the increasing stockpile of fissile material across the world is enough to build over 300,000 nuclear bombs! [10] Moreover, there was never any let up in the sophistication of nuclear weapon delivery systems – bombers, missiles and submarines – and in the manufacturing and stockpiling of advanced ‘conventional’ weapon systems. Thus, what is very much evident is that the NPT, which was supposed to curtail the nuclear arms race, has only aggravated it. In addition, the quest for general and complete disarmament practically stood buried. Even the phrase “general and complete disarmament” seems to have been obliterated from the program of the dominant peace movement let alone from public memory!

Another vital fact that came to light in 1999 is that the United States, which has been making the loudest noises against proliferation of nuclear weapons, had stored nuclear weapons in 27 countries and territories around the globe – with or without the knowledge of the local governments. [11] The U.S. had, thereby, expressed its disdain for Article I of the NPT, which had stipulated that the signatory to the NPT undertakes “not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices”. The U.S. was the only nuclear weapon power that had deployed nuclear weapons abroad; 18 sovereign nations and 9 territories formerly or currently under U.S. control hosted nuclear weapons. U.S. nuclear weapons are stationed even today in Belgium, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Turkey and the United Kingdoms.[12] Those recipient countries, which are signatories to the NPT as non-nuclear weapon states, have, thereby, violated Article II of the NPT, which has stipulated that the signatory to the NPT undertakes “not to receive the transfer from any transferor whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices”. The yawning gap between percept and practice was thus very much apparent. The concern of the NPT is neither about vertical proliferation nor about horizontal proliferation by the nuclear weapon states; the entire focus of the NPT is to police the activities of its non-nuclear weapon member-states.

NPT RevCons

As per Article VIII(3) of the NPT, a conference of the NPT member-states was to be held every five years with the “objective of reviewing the operation of the Treaty”. As a result, periodic NPT Review Conferences or RevCons were held and it became the most important event around which activities of the dominant global peace movement were structured. The wrangling at each of the RevCons, which have been held periodically since 1975, gives a glimpse of the real controversies plaguing the NPT. An overview of the NPT RevCons from 1975 to 1995 and the developments thereafter can be found in the article titled “The Non-Proliferation Treaty: Challenging Times” by Rebecca Johnson (ACRONYM Report No.13, February 2000) [13] and in the article titled “The Evolution of NPT Review Conference Final Documents 1975-2000” by Carlton Stoiber (The Nonproliferation Review, Fall/Winter 2003).[14]  Rebecca Johnson’s article begins by pointing out that:

“Although the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee had been negotiating multilaterally, the final text of the NPT was largely the product of bilateral negotiations between the United States and Soviet Union.” (Para 3, Part-I)

This is an important observation since it proves that the NPT was propounded in tandem with the evolution of the concept of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) primarily to perpetuate the self-interests of the U.S. and the USSR, since both had a vested interest in wanting to restrict the number of nuclear-armed adversaries. Thereby, the USSR, which had ardently championed the cause of general and complete disarmament until the signing of the PTBT in 1963, had struck a deal with the U.S. in 1968 to carry on the nuclear hegemony of the nuclear-haves. It is quite possible that the USSR agreed to the compromise because it thought that it could outsmart the U.S. with its scientific and technological capability [15], while USA’s strategy was to drive the USSR bankrupt by engaging it an expensive arms race. Ultimately, the U.S. strategy prevailed: due to the unbearable military expenditure, which the USSR was forced to incur in pursuing the senseless arms race, the USSR collapsed in 1991 and completely disintegrated. This was because the U.S. had far more resources at its disposal as compared to the USSR. NPT provided the perfect cover for the U.S. to pursue its nefarious designs.

Both Rebecca Johnson and Carlton Stoiber have also correctly observed that the majority of NNWSs were using the RevCons as a forum to vent their frustrations regarding the lack of progress on the nuclear disarmament front. Therefore, it is evident that the main concern of the vast majority of the NNWSs has always been nuclear disarmament and not horizontal non-proliferation.

Nuclear Disarmament

In the opinion of Dr. Johnson, Founding Director of The Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, London, UK: “The non-nuclear countries are sending ever stronger signals that without nuclear disarmament the non-proliferation norm will become discredited. They cite the stagnation of the strategic arms reduction (START) process, NATO’s reaffirmation in April 1999 of the role of nuclear forces in the Alliance’s Strategic Concept, Russia’s ‘Concept of National Security’, declared in January 2000, and the strategic implications if the United States pushes ahead with ballistic missile defences, including the risk of a resurgent arms race, possibly extending to outer space.” (Para 14, Summary)

Expressing a similar opinion, Carlton Stoiber, an expert on international law based in Washington, DC, and who had served in the U.S. Department of State and Nuclear Regulatory Commission for nearly 30 years, commented on the developments in the RevCons as follows:

(a) “The most difficult and complicated negotiations over Final Documents at past RevCons have involved the nuclear arms race and disarmament provisions of Article VI.” (P.130)

(b) “A constant theme in the Article VI debate has been dissatisfaction on the part of a majority of NNWS [non-nuclear weapon states] parties that the NWS [nuclear weapon states] have not made greater and more rapid progress toward reducing and eventually eliminating their nuclear weapon arsenals.” (P.140)

(c) “Article VI has engendered the greatest controversy of any of the NPT provisions. And…fundamental differences over disarmament issues have usually been the primary stumbling block to reaching consensus on a Final Declaration.” (P.140)

(d) “In light of its extremely ambitious objectives (end of the arms race, general and complete disarmament), it is no surprise that RevCon documentations have never expressed satisfaction that the parties to the treaty have met their Article VI obligations. Rather, the language adapted under Article VI have typically reflected a litany of disappointments, frustrations, lost opportunities, and appeals for more rapid and concrete action on disarmament issues.” (P. 141)

Negative Security Assurance

An equally important concern of the NNWSs was the issue of security assurances. As Stoiber has again noted:

“The issue of security assurances to non-nuclear weapon states parties to the NPT has been a central issue at NPT RevCons since 1975. The issue was actively debated during negotiations of the treaty itself. In fact, without the adoption of Security Council Resolution 255 in 1968, extending so-called positive security assurances to the NNWSs it is unlikely that the treaty would have been approved.” (P.143)

While Security Council Resolution 255 of 1968 – the so-called “positive” security assurance – was one of the most abject resolutions ever to be passed by the UN Security Council, the point to be noted here is that the issue of security assurances to the NNWSs has remained a perpetual source of controversy in the RevCons. To ostensibly rectify the shortcomings of the UNSC Resolution 255 of 1968, the UNSC passed yet another resolution on 11 April 1995 (Resolution 984 of 1995). However, on 11 April 1995 itself the G-21 nations, representing the non-aligned nations in the UN, wrote a protest letter addressed to the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Disarmament against the said resolution. The letter stated that: “this resolution does not take into account any of the formal objections made in the past by Non-nuclear Weapon States on the restrictive, restrained, uncertain, conditional and discriminatory character of the guarantees already provided.” Therefore, “it is for the Nuclear Weapon States to provide security assurances to Non-nuclear Weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in an internationally and legally-binding form.” [16] The inherent flaws in the UNSC Resolution No.984 of 1995 were, thus, quickly exposed by the G-21 nations.

In a detailed article titled “The Legal Status Of U.S. Negative Security Assurances To Non-Nuclear Weapon States” [17], George Bunn, who had served as general counsel of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) from 1961 to 1969, and who was one of the negotiators of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, laid bare the U.S. position on the issue. Divulging the U.S. stand, he wrote:

(a) “…in 1966, the eight non-aligned countries [which included India] that were members of the Geneva disarmament  conference joined in a memorandum to the conference that recited their various individual NPT-related proposals including “the banning of the use of nuclear weapons and assurance of the security of non-nuclear-weapon States.” They suggested that these “could be embodied in a treaty as part of its provisions or as a declaration of intention.” [Fn. 35]

(b) “During the U.N. General Assembly debates on disarmament in the fall of 1966, 46 non-aligned countries introduced a draft resolution that invited the nuclear weapon states “to give an assurance that they will not use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States.” [Fn. 36]

(c) “ACDA [U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency] sought authority from President Johnson for the U.S. representative to the United Nations to vote for the resolution…. The Joint Chiefs of Staff opposed ACDA’s draft: According to a State Department cable sent to President Johnson and Secretary of State Rusk, who were abroad when the issue arose, the Chiefs’ “opposition was based on the reason that such a nonuse assurance could provide an impetus toward total prohibition of nuclear weapons…” [Fns. 37, 38]

The Joint Chiefs of Staff had as early as 1966 correctly identified the crux of the issue: “a nonuse assurance could provide an impetus toward total prohibition of nuclear weapons”! This is precisely the reason why a negative security assurance, i.e., a pledge by the nuclear weapon states not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states, has to be an integral part of any nuclear arms control or disarmament treaty. A negative security assurance is the very first step that would provide the necessary impetus for moving towards the goal of nuclear disarmament.

“Greatest Con Game”

The intrigue behind the NPT was also exposed through a chance discovery. While exploring aspects of non-compliance of the obligations under the existing arms control treaties, Zia Mian of Princeton University has uncovered that:

“Bill Epstein, a veteran United Nations official in the area of arms control and disarmament, records that “one of the American negotiators conceded privately that the NPT was ‘one of the greatest con games of modern times.'” [18]

Indeed, from the above analyses it is very evident that the NPT has been ‘one of the greatest con games of modern times’! Although William Epstein had recorded this fact in 1976, it was never given the prominence it truly deserved. The proponents of the NPT, who may have been aware of this fact 30 years ago, nevertheless, have had no compunctions in continuing to eulogize the NPT! It may be relevant to mention here that William Epstein, who passed away in 2001, was – in the words of the then UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan – “indisputably one of the world’s leading advocates of global disarmament, having devoted his entire professional career and his long retirement to this noble cause.” [19] It was obviously a considered decision on the part of a leading advocate of global disarmament like William Epstein to have recorded that the NPT was nothing but a con game. For a long time and among a sizable section of peace activists, an illusion was created that the NPT was addressing the issue of disarmament and peace. However, the fact is, forty years after the signing of the NPT, the human security environment has merely turned from bad to worse.

Apart from the NPT, most of the Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (NWFZ) treaties, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the proposed Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT), etc., have little to do with disarmament and all of them have been framed with plenty of loopholes to favour the interests of the advanced nuclear weapon states. (The only genuine and valuable NWFZ treaty is the Antarctic Treaty signed in 1959 since it prohibits any type of military activity by any outside agency on the continent.) The worst role that questionable treaties such as the NPT, other NWFZs, etc., have played over the last four decades has been to totally sideline the issue of general and complete disarmament and effectively obliterate from public memory the significance of the McCloy-Zorin Accord. It was not only the leadership of the NATO and Warsaw Pact military alliances who are guilty of this cover-up; a sizable section of the global peace movement, who are so overawed by NPT, other NWFZs, etc., have also suffered from selective amnesia about the remarkable features of the McCloy-Zorin Accord.

The Alternative

The Action Plan for a Non-Violent and Nuclear Weapon Free World Order submitted by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on 9 June 1988 before the Third Special Session of the UN General Assembly devoted to Disarmament (SSOD – III) had incorporated the essence of the McCloy-Zorin Accord and captured the spirit of President Kennedy’s “World Peace” speech delivered on 10 June 1963. While SSOD – I was held in 1978 and SSOD – II was held in 1982, the fact that a fourth special session on disarmament has not been organised by the UN during the last two decades despite all the turbulence and discord is a telling statement on the kind of ideological influence under which the UN has been functioning.

It is high time that the global peace movement collectively begins to focus attention on the urgency of achieving the goals set out in the McCloy-Zorin Accord and the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan. Every effort should be made by such a reinvigorated peace movement to influence the UN member-states to ensure that the next SSOD is held latest by the year 2010. It is a very encouraging sign that, on 9 June 2008 on the 20th anniversary of the proclamation of the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has reaffirmed Government of India’s commitment to the Plan. [20] Dr. Manmohan Singh also disclosed that India had recently submitted a Working Paper on Nuclear Disarmament to the UN General Assembly containing initiatives on nuclear disarmament, including a proposal for holding a nuclear weapons convention. If that is the case, nothing prevents India from taking the initiative in organising a global nuclear weapons convention as the initial step towards achieving the goal of general and complete disarmament.

N.D.Jayaprakash is based at the Delhi Science Forum, D-158, Saket, New Delhi 110017 and can be reached at

[1] At [27.6.2008]

[2] At [27.6.2008]

[3] At [27.6.2008]

[4] At [27.6.2008]

[5] At [27.6.2008]

[6] The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation between the USSR and the U.S. regarding the Soviet deployment of nuclear missiles in Cuba. After USA’s failed Bay of Pigs invasion on 17 April 1961, the USSR had ostensibly placed the missiles there to protect Cuba from further planned attacks by the U.S. The USSR’s deployment of missiles in Cuba was also in retaliation for the U.S. nuclear missiles deployed in Turkey, which was very close to the Soviet border. The crisis began on 16 October 1962, when U.S. reconnaissance data revealed Soviet nuclear missile installations in Cuba and ended twelve days later on 28 October 1962, when Khrushchev announced that the installations in Cuba would be dismantled in return for assurances that the U.S. would not invade Cuba and that the U.S. would withdraw its nuclear missiles from Turkey. The Cuban Missile Crisis is regarded as the moment when the Cold War came closest to escalating into a nuclear war.

[7] At [27.6.2008]

[8] Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November-December 1997, p.67

[9] Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July-August 2006, p.66 at [27.6.2008]


[10] At [27.6.2008]

[11] Robert S. Norris, William M. Arkin, and William Burr, “Where They Were,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November/December 1999, pp.26-35

[12] “U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Europe”, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York, February 2005, at [27.6.2008]

[13] At [27.6.2008]

[14] The Nonproliferation Review, Fall Winter 2003, Vol.10, No.3,
at [27.6.2008]

[15] The excessive euphoria following the successful launching of the world’s first artificial satellite “Sputnik” on 04 October 1957 and Yuri Gagarin’s historic space voyage on 12 April 1961 seem to have clouded the Soviet leadership’s thought process, which possibly led them to take irrational decisions.

[16] CD/1312 dated 11.04.1995 at [27.6.2008]

[17] The Nonproliferation Review, Spring-Summer 1997, pp.3-5 at [27.6.2008]

[18] Zia Mian in ‘Elementary Aspects of Noncompliance in the World of Arms Control and Nonproliferation’, Program on Science and Global Security, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, January 2002, fn.98 (quote from William Epstein, The Last Chance: Nuclear Proliferation and Arms Control, The Free Press, New York, 1976, p.118) at [27.6.2008]

[19] UN Press Release, 14 February 2001, SG/SM/7715 at [27.6.2008]

[20] [27.6.2008]








N.D. Jayaprakash is Joint Secretary, Delhi Science Forum and Co-Convenor, Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti (Coalition for supporting the Cause of the Bhopal Gas Victims).