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

One of the biggest failures of the United Nations (UN) since its founding was its inability to halt the nuclear arms race and take any significant step towards elimination of nuclear weapons. On the contrary, the UN – wittingly or unwittingly – became a victim of a series of con games played by the nuclear weapon powers. On the face of it, the latest attempt of the UN to adopt a so-called ‘Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’ appears to be no different. This analysis is an attempt to suggest ways and means to prevent the proposed ‘Convention’ from becoming yet another con game.


CTBT – Another Deceptive Treaty

As far as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is concerned it may be recalled that it was the first item on the agenda of the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament (ENCD) that was set up by the UN General Assembly way back in 1962. However on the eve of finalizing the CTBT, three nuclear powers – namely, USA, USSR and UK – decided to sign a Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) on August 05, 1963, which permitted underground nuclear tests while banning nuclear tests in the atmosphere, underwater and in outer space.  Signing the PTBT was a betrayal of the cause of disarmament and peace. Yet most nations of the world, as well as the peace movements, welcomed it without understandings the repercussions of supporting the PTBT and the adverse impact it would have on the long run. Similarly, peace movements were enamored by the form of the CTBT than its contents and willingly supported its adoption in 1996. However, the fact is, the CTBT is just another ‘too clever by half’ proposal of the U.S., through which it intended to outwit other nations. This is evident from the statement of Dr. Sigfried Hecker, former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, who let the cat out of the bag by his boastful statement in 2009 that: “the single most important reason to ratify the CTBT is to stop other countries from improving their arsenals.”[60] [Emphasis added] In other words, the CTBT does not in any way restrain the U.S. from improving or upgrading its nuclear arsenal!

According to Article – 1 of the CTBT, “Each State Party undertakes not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion…”[61] However, strangely enough, the Treaty does not define what constitutes a “nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion” for the purpose of specifying in technical terms what is prohibited by the Treaty. This is not an oversight but another one of those devious tactics on the part of the P-5. According to the U.S. State Department:

“the parties made a deliberate decision not to include a specific definition of scope in the treaty so as to avoid loopholes that could arise from a technical list of what specific activities were and were not permitted.”[62]

In short, “the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty purports to ban an activity it does not define” as was pointed out by none other than Republican Senator Trent Lott, the majority leader in the U.S. Senate, on October 5, 1999.[63] Therefore, nobody knows whether the so-called low-yield hydronuclear tests, zero-yield nuclear tests, hydrodynamic experiments, subcritical experiments, etc. – all intended to develop/upgrade nuclear weapons – are banned or not. However, the fact is, USA, Russia, U.K., and China have conducted hydronuclear tests after the signing of the CTBT.[64] The U.S. has also reportedly carried out 27 subcritical critical experiments with plutonium since 1992 at the Nevada Test Site.[65] Moreover, according to a news report dated April 16, 2017, the U.S. successfully tested an upgraded version of the B61-12 nuclear bomb by dropping a zero-yield version of the bomb over the Nevada desert.[66]  In short, the CTBT, in its present form, has not imposed any restrictions on the nuclear weapon development capabilities of the P-5. Instead, the CTBT was designed as a non-proliferation tool to rein in the NNWS and to maintain the status quo. It is quite obvious that the CTBT, in its present form, was not intended as a step towards the goal of nuclear disarmament. As far as the U.S. was concerned, CTBT was just a cover for outwitting the other members of the P-5 and other NWS.

McCloy-Zorin Accords

The worst role that questionable treaties such as NPT, NWFZs, CTBT, etc., have played over the last five decades has been to obfuscate the issue of general and complete disarmament and effectively obliterate from public memory the significance of the McCloy-Zorin Accords or what is also known as the ‘Joint Statement on Agreed Principles for Disarmament Negotiations’. The leadership of the NATO and the Warsaw Pact military alliances are not the only ones who are guilty of attempting to cover-up this historic pact, which was signed by John McCloy on behalf of the U.S. and by Valerian Zorin on behalf of the USSR on September 20, 1961.  A sizable section of the global peace movement, who are so overawed by NPT, NWFZs, CTBT, etc. (in their present form), have also suffered from selective amnesia about the remarkable features of the McCloy-Zorin Accords, which was a path-breaking initiative. Through the McCloy-Zorin Accords, the U.S. and the USSR had agreed to recommend the following principles as the basis for future multilateral negotiations on disarmament and had called upon other states to cooperate in reaching early agreement on general and complete disarmament in a peaceful world in accordance with these principles:

1 The goal of negotiations is to achieve agreement on a programme which will ensure:

2 That disarmament is general and complete and war is no longer an instrument for settling international problems, and

3 That such disarmament is accompanied by the establishment of reliable procedures for the peaceful settlement of disputes and effective arrangements for the maintenance of peace in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

4 The programme for general and complete disarmament shall ensure that States have at their disposal only such non-nuclear armaments, forces, facilities, and establishments as are agreed to be necessary to maintain internal order and protect the personal security of citizens; ….

5 To this end, the programme for general and complete disarmament shall contain the necessary provisions, with respect to the military establishment of every nation for:

6 The disbanding of armed forces, the dismantling of military establishments, including bases, the cessation of the production of armaments as well as their liquidation or conversion to peaceful uses;

7 The elimination of all stockpiles of nuclear, chemical, bacteriological, and other weapons of mass destruction, and the cessation of the production of such weapons;

8 The elimination of all means of delivery of weapons of mass destruction;

9 The abolition of organizations and institutions designed to organize the military efforts of States, the cessation of military training, and the closing of all military training institutions; and

10 The discontinuance of military expenditures….”[67]

It is also notable that the McCloy-Zorin Accords were signed in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, two weeks after the conclusion of the First Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-Aligned Nations, which was held in Belgrade from September 01–06, 1961. The Belgrade Declaration had laid special emphasis on disarmament and had stated as follows:

“15. The participants in the Conference consider that disarmament is an imperative need and the most urgent task of mankind. A radical solution of this problem, which has become an urgent necessity in the present state of armaments, in the unanimous view of participating countries, can be achieved only by means of a general, complete and strictly internationally controlled disarmament.”

“16.The Heads of State or Government point out that general and complete disarmament should include the elimination of armed forces, armaments, foreign bases, manufacture of arms as well as elimination of institutions and installations for military training, except for purposes of internal security; and the total prohibition of the production, possession and utilization of nuclear and thermo-nuclear arms bacteriological and chemical weapons as well as the elimination of equipment and installations for the delivery and placement and operational use of weapons of mass destruction on national territories.”[68]

What was also remarkable was that 25 Heads of State or Government, who were attending the NAM summit, jointly wrote identical letters addressed separately to President John Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev, as follows:

“…we take the liberty of urging on the Great Powers concerned that negotiations should be resumed and pursued so that the danger of war would be removed from the world and [hu]mankind adopts ways of peace…. your efforts through persistent negotiations will lead to a way out of the present impasse and enable the world and humanity to work and live for prosperity and peace.”[69]

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India and President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana were entrusted with the task of personally handing over the letter along with the Belgrade Declaration to Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Similarly, President Soekarno of Indonesia and President Mobido Keita of Mali were to hand over the same to President Kennedy, which they did immediately after the Conference. The NAM appeal from Belgrade had dramatic impact. The representatives of USA and USSR not only met in Belgrade to sign the Joint Statement, which later came to be known as the McCloy-Zorin Accords, but also the Joint Statement incorporated almost in toto paras 15 and 16 of the Belgrade Declaration relating to disarmament. President Kennedy acknowledged this contribution when he addressed the UN General Assembly on September 25, 1961, five days after the signing of the McCloy-Zorin Accords. In that address, he said:

“The risks inherent in disarmament pale in comparison to the risks inherent in an unlimited arms race.  It is in this spirit that the recent Belgrade Conference–recognizing that this is no longer a Soviet problem or an American problem, but a human problem–endorsed a program of “general, complete and strictly an internationally controlled disarmament…. And it is in this spirit that we have presented with the agreement of the Soviet Union–under the label both nations now accept of “general and complete disarmament”–a new statement of newly-agreed principles for negotiation.”[70]

On September 25, 1961, President Kennedy also unveiled at the United Nations a plan, which was subsequently titled ‘Freedom From War: The United States Program for General and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful World’ (State Department Publication 7277).[71] Three months later, the McCloy-Zorin Accord was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 20, 1961 through Resolution No.1722(XVI).[72] The Resolution endorsed the setting up of an Eighteen Nations Committee on Disarmament (ENCD) comprising five representatives from NATO, five from the Warsaw Pact, and eight representatives from the NAM, including India, to execute the recommendations of the McCloy-Zorin Accords. ENCD discussed two drafts: one submitted by the USSR on March 15, 1962 titled ‘Draft treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict international control’.[73]; and another one submitted by the U.S. on April 18, 1962 titled ‘Outline of basic provisions of a treaty on general and complete disarmament in a peaceful world’. [74]

Since the world was faced with the menace of nuclear weapon tests (especially atmospheric ones) during the early 1960s, deliberations at ENCD focused attention on arriving at a test ban treaty as the first step towards nuclear disarmament. However, on the eve of signing a comprehensive test ban treaty, USA, USSR and UK decided to sign a Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) on August 05, 1963. With the signing of the PTBT, the powerful worldwide peace movement against nuclear weapons almost dissipated on the mistaken belief that the danger posed by nuclear weapons had been averted.[75]  Moreover, with the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963, and the untimely death of Prime Minister Nehru (the architect of NAM) on May 27, 1964, the issue of general and complete disarmament practically disappeared from the agenda of the peace movement. Thereafter, discriminatory treaties such as NPT, NWFZs, CTBT, etc., have been dominating the scene for the last five decades, without having any impact on either reducing the threat of nuclear war or advancing the cause of general and complete disarmament. Of course, between 1963 and 1975, the peace movement was totally immersed in the campaign to oppose USA’s aggressive war against Vietnam. It was only when the U.S. began deploying neutron bombs in Europe in 1977, that the peace movement again began focusing attention on the impending threat of nuclear war. Concurrently, as a result of the initiative taken by the NAM Summit in Colombo in 1976,[76] the UN decided to convene a Special Session of the General Assembly Devoted to Disarmament (UNSSOD) in 1978, which was followed by two more UNSSODs in 1982 and in 1988. At the 1988 UNSSOD, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi submitted India’s ‘Action Plan for Ushering in a Nuclear Weapon Free & Non-Violent World Order’,[77] which was an attempt at resurrecting the essence of the McCloy-Zorin Accords of 1961.[78]  Unfortunately, after the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, the peace movement has suffered a setback due to the mistaken belief that the nuclear danger had waned. The fact that the UN has been unable to organize a fourth special session on disarmament during the last three decades, despite the turbulence and discord in many parts of the globe, is a matter of grave concern. It is an indication of the kind of ideological influence under which the UN is being forced to function.

While any initiative to prohibit nuclear weapons is welcome, by making it subservient to the NPT in its present form, the very purpose for which it was being introduced has lost its rationale. If the objective is really to prohibit nuclear weapons, the Draft Convention will have to:

Declare that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would constitute a crime against humanity.

Prohibit the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons until their elimination;

Outline confidence building measures for reducing the nuclear threat. Such steps would necessarily include:

An unqualified and binding negative security assurance to NNWS;

A no-first-use pledge by NWS to each other;

De-alerting of deployed nuclear weapons;

Separation of nuclear warheads from missiles and other delivery systems;

Resurrection of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972;

Ban on militarization of outer space;

Ban on introduction of new types of weapon systems; etc.

Initiate steps to remove the discriminatory character of the NPT, NWFZ treaties and the CTBT;

Assert that no NWS can claim any inherent right to use nuclear weapons since the Right of Self Defense enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter does not empower any member-state to commit genocide;

Expose the myth of nuclear deterrence since possession of nuclear weapons cannot provide immunity from mutually assured destruction;

Shatter the delusion that nuclear weapons can provide security to NWS (or to NNWS that seek refuge under the nuclear umbrella); and

Highlight the fact that nuclear weapons cannot protect life in any way; its use either through a preemptive attack or through a retaliatory attack can only cause widespread death and devastation.

Finally, a genuine Draft Convention on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will have to be based on the McCloy-Zorin Accords (i.e., the U.S.-USSR Joint Statement on Agreed Principles for Disarmament Negotiations) of 1961[79] and it will have to incorporate the essence of Rajiv Gandhi’s ‘Action Plan for Ushering in a Nuclear Weapon Free and Non-Violent World Order’ of 1988.[80] In addition, it should have enough inputs from the revised ‘Model Nuclear Weapons Convention’ submitted by Costa Rica and Malaysia to the UNGA in 2008.[81] On the contrary, if the Draft Convention is essentially only a cover to infuse faith in the present NPT, it will tantamount to yet another act of deception and nothing else. The NPT in its present form is nothing but a fraudulent treaty: it is just incredible that the P-5 could claim inalienable “right” of use of nuclear weapons against the very signatories to the treaty and the NNWS meekly conceding that “right” to the P-5! Had the NPT been a non-discriminatory one, it would have indeed severed the purpose for which it was intended.

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


[60] See article titled ‘Test Ban Treaty: Myths vs. Realities’ at:


[62] Op cit. (fn.60)

[63] See: and U.S. Congressional Report – Senate, October 8, 1999, p.24608 at:


[65] Frank von Hippel, Subcritical Experiments, BAS, Dec. 14, 2012 at:




[69] &


[71] See:




[75] The Stockholm Appeal for banning nuclear weapons issued by the World Peace Council (WPC) in March 1950; Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s call before the Indian Parliament on April 02, 1954 for a ‘Standstill Agreement on Nuclear Weapon Tests’; the appeal for disarmament and peace issued by the Bandung Conference on April 24, 1955; the Russell-Einstein Manifesto of July 09, 1955 about the dangers posed to the survival of humanity; the formation of the Japan Council against A & H Bombs on September 19, 1955; the formation of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in Britain in February 1958; and similar organizations in several other countries had succeeded in arousing the consciousness of hundreds of millions of people across the world about the dangers of nuclear war and the need for abolishing nuclear weapons. However, following the signing of the PTBT, there was drastic drop in the membership of most of the peace organizations.

[76] See: Para 139 at:


[78] However, after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991, successive governments in India, other than paying lip service, have done little to advance the cause of disarmament and peace.


[80] Op cit., (fn.77)

[81] Op cit., (fn.12)

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).