No More Con Games: Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now! (Part Two)

Nuclear Infrastructure

Another disturbing aspect is the extension of the huge nuclear infrastructure of the P-5 into the territories of the NNWS. Nuclear weapons are only one part of the nuclear infrastructure; an equally important part is the command, control, communication and intelligence (C3I) system. From a study conducted as early as 1985 and published in BAS, it was evident that:

(a) “Command, control, communication and intelligence (C3I) systems – the nervous system of the nuclear arsenals – are what gives the superpowers the confidence that they can fight and win a nuclear war.”

(b) “…65 nations and territories house facilities of the nuclear infrastructure: the United States has nuclear related facilities in 40 foreign countries and territories, the Soviet Union in 11, Britain in 12 and France in 9.” and

(c) “Every day, through training, reconnaissance, and exercise, the nuclear infrastructure makes dry run of nuclear war. Nuclear-free countries have already begun to realize, however crudely in some instances, that “protection” by this infrastructure entails provocation and high-risk operations.” [23]

China is the only P-5 that has not set up C3I facilities on foreign territories so far. With the demise of the Soviet Union, the situation had marginally changed for the better. However, the fact remains that all the NWS, which have set up foreign nuclear infrastructural facilities, are guilty of violating Article – I of the NPT by exercising “control over” nuclear weapons by “transferring” nuclear infrastructure to “recipient” NNWS. Similarly, the NNWS that continue to host such vital facilities on their territories are guilty of violating Article – II of the NPT by “directly or indirectly” helping NWS to exercise “control over” nuclear weapons, which are deployed outside the territories of the P-5.

The discriminatory nature of the NPT also comes out starkly in Article – II of the NPT, which extracts an undertaking from the NNWS “not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices” while the P-5 are exempted from giving any such undertaking. The consequence of such wholly unjustified exemption to the P-5 has proved to be very costly for humanity at large. Why was it that the stipulation “not to manufacture or acquire nuclear weapons”, which was applicable to the NNWS not made applicable to the P-5 as well? What were the insurmountable hurdles in the way of making that provision non-discriminatory? A stipulation could have been incorporated in the NPT to freeze testing and production of nuclear weapons. Therefore, it is abundantly clear that in the NPT all responsibilities and obligations were on the NNWS while the P-5 could not only continue to test, produce, stockpile nuclear weapons, and spread their tentacles worldwide but also assert the right to threaten as well as use such weapons on NNWS when it suits them!

No Restraint on Nuclear Tests/Stockpile

In other words, while horizontal proliferation (i.e., testing & acquisition of nuclear weapons) by the NNWS was prohibited under the NPT, there was no prohibition on vertical proliferation (i.e., testing, production, & stockpiling of nuclear weapons) by the P-5. As a result, between 1968 and 1995 (i.e., before signing the CTBT) the P-5 had carried out no less than 1186 nuclear weapon tests as opposed to 858 tests that the P-5 had carried out between 1945 and 1967 (i.e., before signing the NPT).[24]

That the NPT had clearly failed to restrain the aggressive policies of the P-5 is evident from the fact that while the entire stockpile of nuclear weapons (both strategic & as well as tactical ones) in 1968 had totaled 38,974, by 1986 the figure had shot up to 70,481.[25] As far as the strategic component alone was concerned, the U.S. stockpile, which was 4,839 in 1968, had reached a high of 13,002 warheads in 1987, while the Soviet Union’s figure was 1,605 in 1968 and 11,320 in 1989 respectively.[26] The total destructive power of this huge nuclear arsenal was about 22,000 megatons of TNT, which was roughly equivalent to over 1,470,000 Hiroshima-type atom bombs.[27] The mind-boggling devastation this huge arsenal could have unleashed may well be imagined! Thus, 20 years after signing the NPT, the world had become a far more dangerous place to live in – all thanks to the framers of the NPT, who were intent on pandering to the whims and fancies of the P-5 and their allies. Can these facts be denied? For whose benefit was unbridled vertical proliferation permitted? Why did the NNWS remain mute spectators to this mindless nuclear arms race? The current stockpile of nuclear weapons is as follows: USA = 7000; Russia = 7290; Britain = 215; France = 300; China = 260; Israel = 80; India = 100-120; Pakistan = 110-130; and North Korea = 10; i.e., a total of 15395 warheads.[28]

Sidelining of Resolution 2028 (XX)

This perilous situation was a testimony to the fact that while formulating Articles – I & II of the NPT, no attempt was made to ensure that the signatories to the NPT would abide by the stipulations set out in Clause 2 of the UNGA Resolution 2028 (XX) of November 19, 1965. Three of the said stipulations were as follows:

(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….” [29]

As is evident, Articles – I & II of the NPT had left enough loopholes to help the P-5 to indulge in unbridled proliferation – both vertical as well as horizontal. Not only did the P-5 recklessly increase the stockpile of nuclear weapons (vertical proliferation) but also they thoughtlessly deployed nuclear weapons abroad – stationary ones at bases in territories of allies as well as occupied territories and mobile ones on submarines. Moreover, as noted in Paras 1-5 above, not only were responsibilities and obligations on the part of P-5 and NNWS different but also the P-5 took no step towards the achievement of nuclear disarmament let alone general and complete disarmament. Thereby, the said stipulations made in clause 2 of the said UNGA Resolution 2028 (XX) were rendered completely meaningless. All that the original signatories to the NPT (USA, USSR & UK) had to do to escape the ambit of these stipulations was to delete clauses 2(a)(b)(c)&(d), from the final text of the NPT, which was signed on July 01, 1968. [However, clause 2(e) was incorporated as Article – VII of the NPT.] Incidentally, UNGA Resolution No.2028 (XX) was titled “A Treaty to Prevent the Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons” and it was proposed by India and seven other non-aligned countries. It was against the non inclusion of the said stipulations in clause 2, which rendered the NPT not only discriminatory but also meaningless, that India had refused to sign the NPT.

Discriminatory Nature of the NPT

The thoroughly discriminatory nature of the NPT again comes out clearly in Article III(1) of the NPT, which states as follows:

“Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes to accept safeguards, as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Agency’s safeguards system, for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices….” [30]

As per Article III(1) of the NPT, nuclear facilities of only the NPT-member NNWS were to be placed under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s safeguards system. This was for the exclusive purpose of verifying whether the said NNWS were fulfilling their obligations, which they had assumed under the NPT, i.e., to use nuclear technology only for peaceful purposes and not divert the same for building weapons of mass destruction. While all the nuclear facilities of the said NNWS were to be covered by IAEA’s “Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement”[31], the P-5 were “not obliged to conclude safeguards agreements”![32] After making this revelation, the IAEA grudgingly went on to state that: “the five declared nuclear weapon States have agreed that IAEA safeguards may be applied to all or part of their civil nuclear activities”[33], through what is called “Voluntary Safeguards Agreement”.[34] This implies that some civilian nuclear facilities and all the military nuclear facilities of the P-5 are wholly exempt from the voluntary safeguards agreement, which amounts to a clear case of discrimination against the NNWS over whom the IAEA has the “right and obligation to ensure”, i.e., to compulsorily conclude, a comprehensive safeguards agreement covering all nuclear facilities of the NNWS. Therefore, by definition, the present NPT does not embody an acceptable balance of mutual responsibilities and obligations of the nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states as originally envisaged in Clause 2(b) of the UNGA Resolution 2028 (XX) dated November 19, 1965.[35] As is apparent, Article – III of the NPT sets out conditions & obligations, which are strict and inflexible for the NNWS but lax and flexible for the P-5. Moreover, as shown below, the conditions and obligations set out for the P-5 NWS under Article – VI of the NPT are extremely lax and very flexible.

Lifeless Article – VI

It would appear that Article – VI of the treaty had fulfilled the principle stipulated in Clause 2(c) of the UNGA Resolution 2028 (XX)[36], which was that: “The treaty should be a step towards the achievement of general and complete disarmament and, more particularly, nuclear disarmament”. On the contrary, the wording of Article – VI betrays its intent and purpose. It says that: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”[37] As is apparent, it is a completely vague statement because the issue of nuclear disarmament in the first place should have been addressed solely to the P-5 and not to “Each of the Parties to the Treaty.” This is because other than the P-5 no other nation across the world was known to possess nuclear weapons at the time of signing the NPT in 1968.

Instead of placing the onus of nuclear disarmament squarely on the NWS, there was an attempt to obfuscate the issue by making it appear that the NNWS also had an equal role in nuclear disarmament. While NNWS could at best give an undertaking not to acquire nuclear weapons and place all their nuclear facilities, if any, under strict IAEA safeguards, how could they be disarmed of weapons that they did not possess in the first place? What could the NNWS possibly do other than to urge the NWS to end the nuclear arms race and to begin the process of nuclear disarmament? It is impossible to carry out clandestine nuclear weapons programme anywhere on Earth without the knowledge of one or the other P-5 or the governments of the NNWS in whose territory such activity could possibly take place. This is because, the level of scientific & technical know-how, the number of skilled personnel, and the size of infrastructure required for the purpose are significantly high. Considering the advanced level of detection and monitoring mechanisms that were available even at the time of signing the NPT, any possibility of some disgruntled group or organisation carrying out wholly clandestine nuclear weapon programme could have been completely ruled out.

Article – VI also did not specify any time-frame within which to end the nuclear arms race or even for initiating the process of nuclear disarmament. Moreover, what do the phrases “negotiations in good faith” and “at an early date” supposed to mean? In fact, they are merely inbuilt ‘escape clauses’ to assist the P-5 to eschew their obligation to begin negotiations to end the nuclear arms race and eliminate the stockpile of nuclear weapons. Is it not an appalling situation that even 49 years after the signing of the NPT in 1968, the nuclear weapon powers have not been able to find an “early date” for beginning the process of nuclear disarmament?

The worthwhile role that the NNWS could have actively played was by interacting with the NWS to help formulate the necessary policies for advancing the cause of nuclear disarmament and peace. But was it lack of initiative on the part of the NNWS, which failed to curb the nuclear arms race and which was responsible for holding back the process of nuclear disarmament? One of the principles on which the NPT was to be based, as per Clause 2(d) of the UNGA Resolution 2028 (XX), was that: “There should be acceptable and workable provisions to ensure the effectiveness of the treaty”[38] What are the workable provisions in Article – VI that would have made it effective? There was none at all! The reasons are simple: Article – VI was not designed to have either workable or effective provisions. Whereas, the effectiveness of Article – III, as far as the NNWS were concerned, is hardly in doubt since its workable provisions, which the IAEA implements, were very tough and stringent.

Why couldn’t the NWS give an unequivocal commitment to cease the nuclear arms race forthwith – by agreeing to freeze all nuclear weapon programmes – pending initiation of the process of nuclear disarmament at the time of signing the NPT? Why was it not appropriate to pursue negotiations on effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament immediately after the NPT entered into force? Was it the NNWS, which were hindering the process of nuclear disarmament? Were prolonged negotiations really necessary for the NWS even to express a commitment to cease the nuclear arms race? Therefore, there is absolutely no doubt that Article – VI of the NPT was merely the carrot at the end of the long stick to lead the peace movement up the garden path! The complete failure during the last five decades to get a firm commitment from the NWS to end the nuclear arms race and begin the process of abolition of nuclear weapons is a testimony to that fact.

Why was an explicit provision not included in the NPT to prohibit the use of nuclear weapons by the NWS especially against NNWS? Who stood to gain from the absence of such a provision – the nuclear weapon states or the non-nuclear weapon states? This was yet another deliberate loophole in the treaty in favour of the NWS. When the NNWS insisted on security assurances from the NWS, they were again hoodwinked into believing that Resolution 255 that was adopted by the UNSC on June 19, 1968[39] would provide such security to the NNWS. The fact was that the security that the said Resolution 255 was supposed to guarantee to the NNWS was a complete sham. It was not worth the scrap of paper it was written on and those who proposed that Resolution knew that very well! Believe it or not, it was called “positive” security assurance to NNWS, i.e., after a NNWS becomes “a victim of an act…in which nuclear weapons are used”, the Security Council promises to step in and take measures to maintain international security! Could there have been a more absurd proposition to assuage the fears of the NNWS (that the Security Council will step in to provide security to a NNWS after the latter becomes a victim of a nuclear attack!)?

[To be continued]

Click here to read part one.

N.D. Jayaprakash is Joint Secretary of the Delhi Science Forum and National Coordination Committee Member of the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (India). He can be reached at jaypdsf@gmail.com


[23] “Focus on Nuclear Infrastructure”, BAS June/July 1985, pp.12, 13 & 15 at: https://books.google.ca/books?id=BgYAAAAAMBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=true

[24] “Known Nuclear Tests Worldwide: 1945-1998”, BAS Nov./Dec. 1998, p.66 at: https://books.google.ca/books?id=sgsAAAAAMBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=true

[25] “Global Nuclear Weapon Stockpile 1945-2006”, BAS July/August 2006, p.66 at:


[26] SIPRI Yearbook 1991, p. 25

[27] http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/Peace/E/pNuclear4_1.html

[28] See: https://www.sipri.com/sites/default/files/Nuclear%20Stockpile-2016-SIPRI.pdf. The total destructive power of the world’s nuclear weapon stockpile had reduced from the high of 22,000 megaton TNT in 1986 to about 6600 megaton TNT in 2017 (see: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/23/without-trump-putin-building-many-nuclear-weapons-world-could/ April 28, 2017), which was nearly one ton of TNT for killing every human-being on Earth. The widespread devastation this magnitude of destructive power could potentially unleash, therefore, continues to be of a very high order. Moreover, considering that a standard hand-grenade contains only about 60 grams of TNT as explosive material, one ton of TNT per human-being would be equivalent to the destructive power (excluding radiation effects) packed in over 16,600 hand-grenades for killing each human-being on Earth! It is to be noted that this huge nuclear explosive power is in addition to the so-called “conventional” explosive power, which is stockpiled in the arsenals of the nations across the world. This apocalyptical scene is an indication of the gravity of the challenge that is still confronting humanity today.

[29] http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/2028(XX)

[30] Op cit. (fn.3)

[31] “Under a comprehensive safeguards agreement, the IAEA has the right and obligation to ensure that safeguards are applied on all nuclear material in the territory, jurisdiction or control of the State…” See:https://www.iaea.org/topics/safeguards-agreements

[32] http://www.iaea.org/inis/collection/NCLCollectionStore/_Public/25/070/25070424.pdf, p.2

[33] Ibid.

[34] “The five nuclear-weapon States parties to the NPT have concluded voluntary offer safeguards agreements under which the IAEA applies safeguards to nuclear material in facilities that the State has voluntarily offered and the IAEA has selected for the application of safeguards.” See: https://www.iaea.org/topics/safeguards-agreements

[35] Op cit. (fn.28)

[36] Ibid.

[37] Op. cit. (fn.3)

[38] Op cit. (fn.28)

[39] http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/255(1968)


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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).

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