Tackling the U.S. / North Korea Standoff: Relevance of the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan 

Photo by White House Communications Agency | Public Domain

Part One.

It was three decades ago on 09 Jun, 1988 that Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had submitted India’s “Action Plan for Ushering in a Nuclear Weapon Free and Non-Violent World Order”before the Third Special Session of the UN General Assembly Devoted to Disarmament.[1] Sadly, the Action Plan, which was derided as utopian and impractical, found few takers at that time. According to political scientist George Perkovich, “These proposals [the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan] were too lofty to have a practical impact, particularly on the existing nuclear powers.”[2] However, with the demise of the Soviet Union on 25 Dec, 1991, serious attempts were made to reduce the global stockpile of nuclear weapons. While there has been considerable reduction in terms of numbers of nuclear weapons from a high of 64,099 warheads in the year 1986 to 9220 warheads in 2017[3], there has not been any perceptible reduction in the nuclear threat hanging over the world with its potential devastating consequences. In fact, over the last two decades, the nuclear threat has also grown horizontally with three more nations joining the nuclear bandwagon: India and Pakistan in 1998; and North Korea in 2006.  The Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Test, which North Korea had carried out on 29 Nov, 2017 (Hwasong-15 with a potential range of 13,000 kms that could pose a threat to the U.S.), has finally compelled the United States to initiate unconditional negotiations with North Korea to end the nuclear impasse. However, the U.S. attempt to apply the “Libya Model”[4] to North Korea is at best a mere pipedream since North Korea is unlikely to fall into such a trap.[5]  The very thought that two nuclear powers would engage in negotiations to divest one of the parties of nuclear weapons is ludicrous. No highhanded approach can resolve the issue. The Joint Statement issued by President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un after their summit meeting in Singapore on 12 Jun, 2018 may appear to be a balanced one and seemingly offer a ray of hope.[6]  However, the problem is too complex to be resolved at a bilateral level. A lot depends on the manner in which two key concepts “security guarantees” and “complete denuclearization” are defined and interpreted by the two parties. If their impending talks in this regard are genuine and purposeful, they will soon realize that the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world” would not be possible without the participation of every other nuclear weapon state in such negotiations.

At the same time, the utter irrelevance of the fraudulent “Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty” (NPT), which was opened for signatures on 01July, 1968 (and which justifies possession and use of nuclear weapons by the P-5[7]), and of the much tom-tommed “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”, which was adopted by the UNGA on 07 Jul, 2017 (and which feigns ignorance about the source of the nuclear threat), have been completely exposed since they have been found to be totally incapable of offering a viable solution to the current crisis.[8]  On the contrary, the present nuclear imbroglio has pushed the significance of Rajiv Gandhi’s Action Plan to the forefront as never before. This article is an attempt to examine the spirit and vision of Rajiv Gandhi’s Action Plan on the thirtieth anniversary of its promulgation and to unravel its current relevance for: (a) reducing the nuclear threat; (b) paving the way for the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons & other weapons of mass destruction; and (c) initiating the process of general & complete disarmament. In this regard, it needs to be emphasized that there is a lot to be learned from past experiences in conducting arms control and disarmament negotiations so that appropriate precautions can be taken to avoid the pitfalls that had wrecked the earlier attempts in this regard. There is an absolute need to strengthen confidence building measures in order to arrive at negotiated agreements to reduce and eliminate the nuclear threat.

Worthy Successor

Rajiv Gandhi’s Action Plan was a worthy successor to the “Joint Statement of Agreed Principles for Disarmament Negotiations” (also known as the McCloy-Zorin Accords on General and Complete Disarmament), which was signed between John McCloy (on behalf of USA) and Valerian Zorin (on behalf of USSR) in Belgrade on 20 Sep, 1961.[9]  The signing of the McCloy-Zorin Accords was a unique historical event of its kind. It may be noted that the contents of these accords were largely based on the appeal issued to President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev on 05 Sep, 1961 by the heads of state or governments of 25 nations, who had assembled in Belgrade to attend the first conference of the Non-Aligned Movement [10], and on the resolution that NAM had adopted on 06 Sep, 1961.[11]  It is also very significant that the McCloy-Zorin Accords was unanimously adopted by the then 104-member UN General Assembly on 20 Dec, 1961. The same UN resolution also endorsed the setting up of an Eighteen Nations Committee on Disarmament (ENCD – comprising of five representatives from the NATO states, five from the Warsaw Pact states and eight from the non-aligned states). The said resolution had unambiguously recommended that the ENCD “as a matter of the most urgency, should undertake negotiations with a view to reaching, on the basis of the Joint Statement of Agreed Principles…, agreement on general and complete disarmament under effective international control.”[12]

Accordingly, the ENCD discussed two drafts: one submitted by the USSR on 15 Mar, 1962 titled “Draft treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict international control”[13];and another one submitted by the U.S. on 18 Apr, 1962 titled “Outline of basic provisions of a treaty on general and complete disarmament in a peaceful world.”[14] While discussions proceeded on the two drafts, the first challenge before the ENCD was to find ways and means to end nuclear weapon tests, the radioactive fallout from which were posing huge threat to living beings and the environment.

Menace of Nuclear Tests

Following the deadly impact of radioactive fallout from the 15-megaton atmospheric test carried out by the U.S. in the Marshall Islands on 01 Mar, 1954, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was the first head of government to give a clarion call on 02 Apr, 1954 before the Indian Parliament for a standstill agreement on nuclear weapon tests.[15] The Final Communiqué issued by the Afro-Asian Conference at Bandung on 24 Apr, 1955 [16] and the Russell-Einstein Manifesto issued on 09 Jul, 1955 [17] by Bertrand Russell, Alert Einstein and nine other scientists too reiterated this call since that was an essential part of the process for the abolition of  nuclear weapons. While these appeals had a huge impact on strengthening the worldwide peace movement, and while the Soviet Union responded by putting forward a proposal for a test ban on 10 May, 1955 [18], it was only after the Soviet Union successfully tested the world’s first ICBM on 21 Aug, 1957[19] that the United States agreed to consider suspending nuclear weapon tests under certain conditions. The Soviet Union used the same R-7-type rocket to launch the world’s first artificial satellite – Sputnik-1 – on 04 Oct, 1957, which was a sign that the USSR had overtaken the U.S. in space technology. Thereafter, the process for suspending nuclear tests gathered momentum. The U.S. and the U.K finally agreed to a moratorium on nuclear weapon tests beginning 31 Oct, 1958.[20]  The USSR followed suit from 04 Nov, 1958.

The uneasy truce lasted nearly three years during which negotiations too continued in order to find ways and means to end nuclear weapon tests. USSR’s success in sending the first human being (Yuri Gagarin) into space on 12 Apr, 1961, hurt the U.S. pride yet again. The U.S. response was pathetic: just five days later, on 17 Apr, 1961, it tried to invade Cuba, which resulted in the Bay of Pigs fiasco [21] that tarnished the image of the U.S. even further. Unfortunately, Gagarin’s maiden space voyage seems to have had a very negative impact on the Soviet leadership as well. The Soviet leaders were so euphoric about having outpaced the U.S. in space technology that they began to delude themselves with illusions of developing the capability to overtake the U.S. militarily. The net result was the Soviet Union took the shocking decision to break the existing moratorium on nuclear weapon tests by conducting a series of nuclear tests from 01 Sept, 1961 [22] onward, including the infamous 50-megaton (Tsar Bomba) atmospheric test over Novaya Zemlya on 30 Sept, 1961.[23] Luckily, the Tsar Bomba explosion resulted from a near complete thermonuclear fusion reaction, which generated relatively low amount of radioactive fallout as compared to its very high explosive yield. However, Andrei Sakharov, who was one of the scientists who had designed that bomb, was completely outraged by the utter mindlessness of that venture. [This was the incident that ultimately resulted in the ostracization of the highly-decorated Soviet scientist by the Soviet establishment.] When a 1-megaton bomb was enough to destroy the biggest city on Earth, what purpose would a 50-megaton bomb possibly serve? [Reportedly, Edward Teller had put forward a proposal to design a 10,000 megaton bomb!(24)] Sakharov had already expressed his opposition to the breaking of the moratorium and renewal of nuclear tests. He had also written a series of articles highlighting the adverse biological effects of radioactive fallouts.[25]

While there can be no justification for Soviet Union’s thoughtless conduct just 10 days after the signing of the historical McCloy-Zorin Accords, the Soviet Union’s excuse for breaking the moratorium was that France, which had not supported the test-moratorium, had conducted 4 nuclear weapon tests between 13 Feb, 1960 and 25 Apr, 1961. News that may have leaked out of the U.S. about the existence of the Single Integrated Operation Plan (SIOP) to launch a preemptive nuclear attack on the Soviet Union may also have rattled the Soviet leadership.[26]  In addition, the hawkish speech delivered by President Kennedy on 25 Jul, 1961 over the Berlin Crisis [27] and the maneuvers that followed must have forced the Soviet military to press the panic button. Under these circumstances, the Soviet leadership appears to have erroneously come to the conclusion that displaying military might was the best strategy – instead of attempting to win hearts and minds of their own people, those of their allies and those in the Third World – to counter the U.S. saber-rattling. By its fatal decision to attempt to overtake the U.S. in the arms race, the USSR effectively chose the path towards self-destruction. It is just incredible that the Soviet leadership had failed to understand the significance of President Eisenhower’s farewell address to the U.S. citizens on 17 Jan, 1961, when he had highlighted the threat held out by the U.S. military-industrial-complex. President Eisenhower had then warned the U.S. citizens as follows:

“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government…. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted…. Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment.” [28]

The Soviet Union ultimately paid a heavy price for ignoring the significance of this warning and for failing to attune its strategy and tactics accordingly.

The PTBT Trap

Between 1945 and 1957, the U.S. had carried out 110 atmospheric nuclear weapon tests, while the USSR’s tally was 49. In 1958, just before the moratorium came into effect, the U.S. carried out another 62 atmospheric tests, while the USSR’s followed with 35. With the resumption of nuclear tests in 1961, the peace movements across the world, which was growing in strength, too redoubled their efforts to pressurize the nuclear weapon powers to end nuclear tests. Member-countries of the Non-Aligned-Movement also did whatever they could to compel the ENCD to do the needful in this regard. However, the sudden decision of three of the four nuclear weapon states – USA, USSR and UK – to conclude a Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) on 05 Aug, 1963, laid waste to that determined effort. France had refused to sign the PTBT. Between 01 Sep, 1961 and 05 Aug, 1963 (i.e., from the time of breaking the moratorium to signing the PTBT), the USSR had conducted 123 atmospheric tests, while the U.S. had conducted 43. In all, between 1945 and 1963, the U.S. carried out 215 atmospheric tests, while the USSR carried out 207 such tests.[29]

According to the U.S. Department of State [30], the efforts to negotiate an international agreement to end nuclear tests began in the Subcommittee of Five (the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, and the Soviet Union) of the U.N. Disarmament Commission in May 1955, when the Soviet Union included discontinuance of weapons tests in its proposals. Public interest in the course of the negotiations was active and sustained. A dozen resolutions of the General Assembly addressed the issue, repeatedly urging conclusion of an agreement to ban tests under a system of international controls. The central and most persistent barrier to a Treaty on cessation of tests, however, was the issue of verifying compliance, of agreeing to establish a system of controls and inspection — particularly with regard to underground explosions — that could guarantee against testing in secret.

On 09 May, 1958, Khrushchev acceded to a proposal put forward by Eisenhower on 28 Apr, 1958 that a meeting of technical experts could suggest methods for detecting violations of a test ban. As a result, technical experts met at a conference in Geneva from 01 Jul to 21 Aug, 1958, attended by representatives from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Romania to “Study the Possibility of Detecting Violations of a Possible Agreement on the Suspension of Nuclear Tests” and to make appropriate recommendations. They agreed on the technical characteristics of a control system to monitor a ban on tests in the atmosphere, under water, and underground. Their report proposed an elaborate network of 170-180 land control posts and 10 ship-borne posts, as well as regular and special aircraft flights. However, the number of on-site inspections that would be needed to determine whether some seismic events were caused by earthquakes or explosions was one sticking point.

The United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union had engaged in a long tripartite effort –the Conference on the Discontinuance of Nuclear Weapon Tests — in almost continuous session in Geneva from 31 Oct, 1958, to 29 Jan, 1962. Under its auspices three technical working groups of experts had investigated and reported on various aspects of control: one on high altitude tests, another on underground tests, the third on seismic research programs to improve detection capabilities. After the three-power conference adjourned in January 1962, unable to complete the drafting of a Treaty because of the Soviet Union’s claim that national means of detection were adequate for all environments, the principal forum for negotiations became the newly formed Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee (ENDC), which began its meetings at Geneva under the aegis of the UN General Assembly in March 1962.

Subsequent developments as narrated by Richards and Zavales [31] were as follows. On 27 Aug, 1962, U.S. and Britain introduced a draft treaty with a proposal for a limited ban to end tests in the atmosphere, underwater and outer space, which may be monitored and verified by national technical means. However, the USSR rejected the proposal because it permitted underground tests. In October 1962, the crisis over Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba [32] convinced both superpowers of the need for rapprochement. Having confronted the very real possibility of nuclear war, the USSR and the US were more willing to moderate negotiating positions. The Soviet Union indicated it would be willing to consider the use of sealed automatic recording stations, nicknamed black boxes, for in-country verification, based on a suggestion by three U.S. and three Soviet scientists at the Tenth Pugwash Conference in London. Although the Western powers rejected the idea of eliminating on-site inspections, they proposed that a group of experts be convened to discuss the black boxes. Following this proposal Kennedy and Khrushchev exchanged letters discussing the acceptable number of on-site inspections in the USSR. Kennedy advocated 8 to 10, while Khrushchev was willing to allow only 2 to 3. Nevertheless, “It appeared that, even if an inspection number acceptable to the Soviets were found, not enough support for a comprehensive ban existed in [the U.S.] Congress to provide the Senatorial advice and consent required to ratify a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.” [33]

Role of NAM

Meanwhile, at the ENCD meeting on 16 Apr, 1962, the non-aligned members had presented a Joint Memorandum urging the nuclear weapon states to speedily conclude an agreement prohibiting nuclear tests for all time.[34] The memorandum focused attention on the vexing issue of evolving a proper mechanism to monitor and detect any violation of a potential agreement on banning nuclear weapon tests. According to Alva Myrdal (NAM’s representative from Sweden on the ENCD):

“The Joint memorandum stated that there were possibilities of establishing, by arrangement, a system for continuous observation and effective control on a purely scientific and non-political basis. Such a system might be based and built upon already existing national networks of observation posts and institutions or, if more appropriate, on certain of the existing posts designated by agreement, together with new posts, if necessary, also to be established by agreement.” [35]

The memorandum also referred to the possibility of setting up an international commission, consisting of a limited number of highly qualified scientists, possibly from the nonaligned countries, for processing all data received from the agreed system of observation posts and for drawing appropriate conclusions. In this regard, Alva Myrdal further added as follows:

“The Swedish delegation had discovered from public sources that there were 7,800 land stations [including 800 seismological stations spread over 65 nations across the world] making meteorological observations and twelve anchored weather-ships. In addition some 3000 ships had agreed to make observations while crossing the oceans. At that time, the United States also had at least two satellites in orbit making meteorological observations. Under arrangement for the transmission of data then in effect, data gathered would be available throughout the world in about an hour.”[36]

When it appeared that all possible loopholes had been plugged at the ENCD level to facilitate the signing of a comprehensive test ban treaty, the Soviet Premier on 02 Jul, 1963, suddenly announced that the USSR
would be willing to accept a treaty banning tests in the atmosphere, in outer space, and underwater. For the first time, Khrushchev did not insist that an underground moratorium accompany the treaty. The following day, U.S. officials announced that the U.S. would also accept such a partial ban. On 15 Jul, 1963 representatives of USA, UK and the USSR began their meeting in Moscow and on 25 Jul, 1963 finalized the draft treaty. The Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) was formally signed by USA, USSR and the UK on 05 Aug, 1963. It appears that just like President Kennedy was pressurized by the U.S. Military, Premier Khrushchev may also have buckled under pressure from the Soviet military. There is no other plausible reason as to why Khrushchev backtracked from his position on a comprehensive test ban treaty.


Alva Myrdal, who went on to became Sweden’s Cabinet Minister for Disarmament (1967-73), was completely disappointed by the turn of events. Therefore, she could not but observe as follows:

“The eight –nation proposal for verifying the comprehensive ban on nuclear testing was simple, submitted in all due modesty, and wholly constructive terms…. Behind our belief that the new scheme was workable and would deter violations of a test ban treaty there lurked suspicions that the nuclear-weapon powers had not really aimed at cessation of testing. Our scientific advisors found several signs of their subterfuge.” [37]

Alva Myrdal’s suspicion that the nuclear weapon powers were not really committed to ending all nuclear tests has been corroborated by two experts in the field of seismology and public policy, Paul G. Richards and John Zavales. With regard to the technical issues arising in early negotiations on the test ban treaty, Richards and Zavales came to the following conclusions:

“The capability to monitor a CTBT by seismological methods was developed on an accelerated basis in the early 1960s, but was then deemed inadequate, leading apparently to the need for significant numbers of on-site inspections of suspicious events. In retrospect, we find that monitoring methods turned out to be significantly better than they were typically characterized at the time by key advisors. Presentations to the US Congress, by witnesses characterizing the US monitoring effort, often gave estimates of monitoring capability that later turned out to be significantly in error, actual capability being better than the estimate. The Geneva system of 170 control posts… was never built, but, on the basis of comparison with other networks, it appears it would have enabled monitoring to be accomplished on a global basis down to mb 3 rather than mb 4 [i.e., in the range 0.14 – 0.32 kiloton rather than in the range 0.54 – 1.1 kiloton (38)], about a tenfold improvement over what was stated at the time to be the desired monitoring capability.” [39]

Thus, despite the fact that seismological sciences were at a fairly advanced stage in the early 1960s, it is amply evident that U.S. officials had suppressed vital seismological data in order to scuttle the possibility of signing a comprehensive test ban treaty in 1962. Under the circumstances, the conclusions that Alva Myrdal drew from her experience as a member of the ENCD was very pertinent. She had noted as follows:

“The truth has since become irrefutably clear: the Moscow Treaty [PTBT] probably was never intended as a measure to curtail the development of weapons. In any case, it has not had a restrictive effect on nuclear-weapons development, not even on the number and yield of tests by those nations who already possess such weapons.” [40]

Complete Farce

Indeed, the signing of the PTBT (Partial Test Ban Treaty) was an almost complete farce. What was the need to negotiate an international treaty to save one’s own citizens from the disastrous effects of one’s own atmospheric nuclear tests? Nothing prevented the concerned parties from resolving the largely self-inflicted problem unilaterally. It may be noted that in 1963, USA was conducting nuclear tests at the Nevada test site in the U.S. Similarly, USSR was conducting nuclear tests at different test sites within their territory.  [Under the 1958 US-UK Mutual Defense Agreement, UK was permitted to carry out underground nuclear tests at the Nevada test site from 1962 to 1991.] Since radioactive fallout from atmospheric nuclear tests would have adversely affected the health of their own citizens, both USA and USSR could have unilaterally decided to abandon atmospheric nuclear tests; signing of an international treaty in this regard was completely superfluous. It now appears that the signing of the PTBT was actually intended to hoodwink the powerful worldwide peace movement, which was intent on not only abolishing all nuclear weapon tests but also all nuclear weapons as well.

Indeed, the worldwide peace movement, which steadfastly grew from 1955 to 1963, quickly dissipated with the signing of the PTBT on the mistaken belief that the apparent bonhomie between the three major nuclear weapon powers had effectively put an end to the nuclear threat. The following report graphically illustrates the fate that befell the British and Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), which was one of the world’s leading peace movements between 1958 and 1963. According to Patrick Comerford, President of the Irish CND:

“The 1962 Cuban missile crisis raised public fears that nuclear war was imminent. But when the telephone hot-line between Washington and Moscow was set up, the Soviet missiles were removed from Cuba, US missiles were quietly removed from Turkey, and the Partial Test Ban Treaty was signed in 1963, the threat of nuclear war appeared to fade and CND numbers began to dwindle. From the mid-1960s, protests against the Vietnam War eclipsed concerns about nuclear weapons.” [41]

Signing of the PTBT may have been a benign exercise but the hawks in the U.S. establishment continued to deride it. As historian Robert Dallek in an article in The Atlantic has noted, “A limited test ban, they [the U.S. military’s top brass] warned, would erode U.S. strategic superiority; later, they said so publicly in congressional testimony.” In the same article Dallek further added: “The Senate decisively approved the treaty nonetheless. This gave Kennedy yet another triumph over a cadre of enemies more relentless than the ones he faced in Moscow. The president and his generals suffered a clash of worldviews, of generations—of ideologies, more or less…”[42]  However, this “clash of worldviews” proved too costly for President Kennedy. According to official records, “On September 24, after extensive hearings and almost three weeks of floor debate, the Senate consented to ratification of the Treaty by a vote of 80 to 19. It was ratified by President Kennedy on October 7, 1963…”[43]  It is significant that while the U.S. Senate ratified the PTBT [also known as the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT)], about one-fifth of the senators had opposed it on the ground that the LTBT had compromised USA’s national security concerns.  To compound the problem, “Articles in Time and Newsweek that portrayed Kennedy as less aggressive than the Pentagon angered him.”[44] Such slanted portrayals would have been more than enough to instigate those who thought that President Kennedy had compromised USA’s national security concerns. Within six weeks of the ratification of the PTBT, President Kennedy was assassinated on 22 Nov, 1963 in Dallas, in the conservative state of Texas.

For the next fourteen years (1963-1977), as the world remained practically oblivious of the nuclear threat, the Great Powers had set-out on an unprecedented nuclear arms race literally underground, away from public gaze and at an accelerated pace.  While the Preamble to the PTBT had proclaimed that its principal aim was “…the speediest possible achievement of an agreement on general and complete disarmament under strict international control in accordance with the objectives of the United Nations which would put an end to the armaments race and eliminate the incentive to the production and testing of all kinds of weapons, including nuclear weapons” [45], in reality the truth turned out to be quite different. Far from curtailing the testing and production of all kinds of weapons and delivery systems, the PTBT provided the ideal cover to the Great Powers to recklessly pursue the arms race. Prior to signing the PTBT, four nuclear weapon states had carried out 528 nuclear weapon tests. However, after the signing of the PTBT in 1963, nine nuclear weapon states have carried out another 1530 nuclear weapon tests between 1963 and 2017.[46]  Similarly, at the time of signing the PTBT, the global stockpile of nuclear weapons was approximately 32,392 of which the U.S. had 28,133 and USSR 4,259. The U.S. stockpile further rose to 31,255 by 1967. The global stockpile peaked to a total of 64,099 by 1986 with the Soviet stockpile alone rising to a phenomenal total of 40,159, which was nearly ten times the stockpile it had in 1963.[47]  Therefore, contrary to what was very eloquently proclaimed in its preamble, the PTBT neither “put an end to the armaments race” nor “eliminate the incentive to the production and testing of all kinds of weapons, including nuclear weapons”. On the other hand, the PTBT did help divert the attention of the peace movement away from the impending nuclear threat. It was not until the attempt to deploy so-called “tactical missiles” with neutron warheads in Europe in 1977[48] and scare-mongering by irresponsible utterances in the U.S. ruling circles about the possibility of waging “limited” nuclear wars in Europe [49] and “winnable” nuclear wars with the Soviet Union [50]that the world rudely awakened to the fact that it was on the edge of a nuclear precipice.

[To be continued]


[1]. Rajiv Gandhi, “Action Plan for Ushering in a Nuclear Weapon Free and Non-Violent World Order”, UNGA, SSOD-III, Annexure-I, 20 May, 1988, at: https://unoda-web.s3-accelerate.amazonaws.com/documents/library/A-S-15-12.pdf

[2]. George Perkovich, India’s Nuclear Bomb: the Impact on Global Proliferation, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999, p. 298

[3]. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Nuclear Notebook, Nuclear Arsenals of the World, 1945-2017, at: https://thebulletin.org/nuclear-notebook-multimedia

[4]. Reuters, “Bolton takes back seat…”, 06 Jun, 2018, at:

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/06/bolton-takes-back-seat-but-remains-a-looming-presence-for-the-north-korea-summit.html (Accessed 15 Jun, 2018)

[5]. New York Times, “North Korea’s Full Statement…”, 15 May, 2018, at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/15/world/asia/north-korea-statement-trump.html (Accessed 15 Jun, 2018)

[6]. U.S.- North Korea Joint Statement, Singapore, 12 Jun, 2018, at:


[7]. P-5, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, namely, USA, USSR, UK, France and China

[8]. For detailed critique of the said “Prohibition Treaty” see articles titled: (1) N.D.Jayaprakash, “Conning Humanity in the Name of Disarmament”, 27 Jul, 2017, at https://www.epw.in/journal/2017/28/web-exclusives/conning-humanity-name-disarmament.html; and (2) N.D.Jayaprakash, “The Game of Disarming the Unarmed: The Other Side of “Solution Aversion’”, 25 Oct, 2017 at:


[9]. US-USSR “Joint Statement of Agreed Principles for Disarmament Negotiations”, 20 Sept, 1961, Belgrade, See:


[10]. Documents of the Non-Aligned Nations Summit Meeting, 01- 06 Sept, 1961, Belgrade, at: https://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKPOF-104-004.aspx [See last eight pages]

[11]. See: Centre for Non-proliferation Studies (CNS), MIIS, NAM Documents Database, NAM Summit 1961, Official Documents, paras 15 and 16,  at: http://cns.miis.edu/nam/documents/Official_Document/1st_Summit_FD_Belgrade_Declaration_1961.pdf

[12]. UNGA, Question of Disarmament, Resolution No.1722 (XVI), 20 Dec, 1961, at: http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/1722(XVI)

[13]. UN ENCD, Final Verbatim Record, Meeting No 2, 15 March 1962, at:


[14]. UN ENCD, Final Verbatim Record, Meeting No 23, 18 April 1962, at:  http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e /endc/4918260.0023.001?rgn=main;view=fulltext

[15]. Jawaharlal Nehru, Statement before Lok Sabha, 02 Apr, 1954, at: http://meaindia.nic.in/cdgeneva/?pdf0601?000

[16]. Bandung Conference, Final Communiqué, 24 Apr, 1955, para F(2), at: http://franke.uchicago.edu/Final_Communique_Bandung_1955.pdf

[17]. The Russell-Einstein Manifesto, 09 Jul. 1955, at:


[18]. “The Soviet Position on Arms Control and Disarmament: Negotiations and Propaganda 1954-1964”, Center For International Studies, MIT, Massachusetts, USA,1965, at: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/613518.pdf

[19]. “The First Soviet Intercontinental Ballistic Rocket R-7 Launched”, Presidential Library, Saint-Petersburg, Russia, at: https://www.prlib.ru/en/history/619478

[20]. See: Paul G. Richards (Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University, New York) and John Zavales (consultant, U.S. Department of Defense) in their paper titled “Seismological Methods for Monitoring a CTBT: The Technical Issues Arising in Early Negotiations”, in E.S. Husebye and A.M. Dainty (eds.), “Monitoring a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty”, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, 1996, at:


[21]. Bay of Pigs fiasco: On 17 Apr, 1961, about 1400 CIA-trained counter-revolutionary military group (consisting of Cuban exiles and some U.S. military personnel) made an abortive attempt to invade Cuba to overthrow the Fidel Castro-led regime. The invasion fleet of five ships set sail from Nicaragua. Although the invading force was provided U.S. air cover, it was defeated within three days by the Cuban Armed Forces. On 20 Apr, 1961, about 1200 invaders surrendered; the rest were killed or managed to flee from Cuba. The prisoners remained in captivity for 20 months before they were eventually released in exchange for food and medicines.

[22]. USSR Nuclear Weapons Tests and Peaceful Nuclear Explosions: 1949 through 1990; Ministry of the Russian Federation for Atomic Energy, and Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, 1996, at: http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Russia/Sovtestsum.html

[23]. Lev Petrovich Feoktistov, Big Ivan, The Tsar Bomba (“King of Bombs”), Chapter Five, Nukes Are Not Forever, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Russia, Moscow, 1999, at:http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Russia/TsarBomba.html

[24]. See: Minutes of the Forty-First Meeting of the General Advisory Committee to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, 12-15, Jul, 1954, p.55, in Alex Wellerstein, ”In Search of a Bigger Boom”, 12 Sept, 2012 at:

http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2012/09/12/in-search-of-a-bigger-boom/ (Accessed 10 Jul, 2018)

[25]. Andrei Sakharov, “Radioactive Carbon from Nuclear Explosions and Non-threshold Biological Effects”, (June 1958 issue of the Soviet journal, Atomic Energy), reproduced in Science & Global Security, 1990, Volume I, pp.175-187, at:


[26]. SIOP was an annually upgraded plan to simultaneously target hundreds of towns and cities in the USSR with nuclear weapons. See: National Security Archives, “U.S. Nuclear War Plans A “Hazard to Ourselves as Well as Our Enemy”, 13 Jul, 2004, at: https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB130/press.htm

[27]. President Kennedy, Radio and television report to the American people on the Berlin crisis, 25 Jul, 1961, at: https://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKPOF-035-031.aspx

[28]. President Eisenhower, Farewell Address, 17 Jan, 1961, The Eisenhower Presidential Library, Abilene, Kansas, USA, at:


[29]. Robert S. Norris & William M. Arkin, Known Nuclear Tests Worldwide, 1945-1994, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May-June, 1995, p.71 at:


[30]. U.S. Department of State, Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water, 05 Aug, 1963, Narrative, at:


[31]. Richards and Zavales (1996)

[32]. Cuban Missile Crisis was a 13-day (16-28 Oct, 1962) political and military standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union over the deployment of nuclear-armed Soviet missiles in Cuba, which was barely 145 kms from U.S. shores. Cuba had apparently permitted the deployment to protect itself from a Bay of Pigs type attack [see EndNote 21 above]. On 22 Oct, 1962, President John Kennedy informed U.S. citizens about the presence of the missiles and about his decision to enact a naval blockade around Cuba. He also made it clear the U.S. was prepared to use military force if necessary to neutralize this perceived threat to national security. Thus, the threat of a nuclear war breaking out appeared real. However, disaster was averted when the U.S. agreed to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s offer to remove the Soviet nuclear missiles from Cuba in exchange for the undertaking from the U.S. never to invade Cuba. Kennedy also secretly agreed to remove U.S. nuclear missiles from Turkey.

[33]. Richards and Zavales (1996)

[34]. ENCD proceedings, Eight Nations Joint Memorandum, 16 Apr, 1962, https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/endc/4918260.0021.001?rgn=main;view=fulltext;q1=16+April+1962, pp. 20-22

[35]. Alva Myrdal, The Game of Disarmament: How the United States and the Soviet Union Run the Arms Race, Manchester University Press, Manchester, UK, 1977, p.89

[36]. Alva Myrdal (1977), p.90

[37]. Alva Myrdal (1977), p.91

[38]. “The yield will depend on the location [soil type] where the test is being conducted. For the Nevada test site, if one uses the relationship m = 3.92 + 0.81 log Y, then mb = 4 will correspond to 1.1 kT whereas mb = 3 will correspond to 0.32 kT. For the Semipalatinsk site, if one uses the relationship m = 4.45 + 0.75 log Y, then the corresponding figures are 0.54 kT and 0.14 kT respectively.”  [“mb” stands for body wave magnitude in distinction to “ms” for surface wave magnitude, the magnitude of the other kind of seismic signal that can be detected] (Explanatory note courtesy: Dr.M.V.Ramana, Princeton University)

[39]. Richards and Zavales (1996)

[40]. Alva Myrdal (1977), p.95

[41]. Patrick Comerford, “50 years later, CND is still on the march in a nuclear world”, The Irish Times, 23 Feb, 2008, at: https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/50-years-later-cnd-is-still-on-the-march-in-a-nuclear-world-1.896821(Accessed 10 Jul, 2018)

[42]. Robert Dallek (Stanford University), “JFK vs. the Military”, The Atlantic, Washington DC, Fall 2013, at: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/08/jfk-vs-the-military/309496/ (Accessed 10 Jul, 2018)

[43]. U.S. Department of State, Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water, 05 Aug, 1963, Narrative, at:


[44]. Robert Dallek (2013)

[45]. U.S. Department of State (1963), Treaty Text, Preamble

[46]. See: Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), Nuclear Testing, World Overview, at:


[47]. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Nuclear Notebook, Nuclear Arsenals of the World, 1945-2017, at: https://thebulletin.org/nuclear-notebook-multimedia

[48]. “In West Germany, where most of the neutron warheads would have been deployed, Secretary General Egon Bahr of Chancellor Schmidt’s own Social Democratic Party (SPD) in July 1977 publicly denounced the ‘neutron bomb’ as ‘a symbol for the perversion of human thinking’. … the German Peace Society-United War Service Resisters… and its affiliated organization, the Socialist German Workers’ Youth (SDAJ) set aside the August 6 anniversary of Hiroshima as a day of demonstrations against the neutron weapon in more than forty German cities.” Jeffrey G., “Moscow and the Peace Offensive”, 14 May, 1982, The Heritage Foundation, at:


[49]. “A remark by President Reagan that he could envision a nuclear war limited to Europe has unleashed a political storm among Europeans…” See: The Washington Post, “Reagan Remark Stirs European Furor”, 21 Oct, 1981, at:


[50]. “…the leak to the New York Times [30 May 1982] of a pentagon document … ostensibly set out the Regan Administration’s ‘guidelines’ of a five-year plan designed to prepare the United States for a protracted and winnable nuclear war with the Soviet Union.” Lord Zuckerman (Chief Scientific Advisor to the British Government 1966-1971), “Fantasies about nuclear war”, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Oct, 1982, p.2



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).