Ishita Suji
Research Intern, Jindal Centre for the Global South,
O.P. Jindal Global University, India.

Disarmament in general terms meaning reducing weapons through bilateral or multi-lateral agreements was adopted through several gradual processes in accordance with the prevalent circumstances of the times. In altogether, the different treaties such as Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), etc. conceptualise the principle of arms control as propounded through forums such as the United Nations. Henceforth, there is a further emphasis laid upon various evolving aspect of disarmament and comparing it with the present scenario that is adopted by different countries. Hence, all these things are associated with the point of lack of progress in eliminating nuclear arsenals and with taking care of relevant controls for transparency, verification, and abidingness.

Den Haag, Tweede 1907 – Second Peace Conference, The Hague (1907)

There were gradual efforts made in the form of the Hague Conference in the late nineteenth century for arms control or be its further developments in the form of World Disarmament Conference, headed by the League of Nations. And in the case of the Versailles Treaty, it can be seen as an initial step of articulation. There were numerous instances where efforts were being made, from the informal meeting to conferences, in hopes of discussing problems arising from the control of nuclear weapons.


In terms of the humanitarian initiative, the ICAN, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, led the negotiation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Earlier, there was the identification of three measures to fulfil the disarmament through completion by the Conference on Disarmament of a Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), certainly for its early conclusion of negotiations on a fissile material cut off treaty; and the determined pursuit by the nuclear-weapon states to reduce nuclear weapons globally with the ultimate goal of their elimination. Along with all of these, there have been other states, such as Germany, have been advocating for the incremental approach as explained further through the Stockholm Initiative.

USA’s Stance

Following the Director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, Robert Ashley’s belief, the casting fact is of Russia non-adherence principle to the nuclear moratorium in a consistent manner with a zero-yield standard imposed by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Thus, an explanation to what Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) means is that any sort of nuclear explosion is not permissible and when actually implementing it requires consultations, inspections, etc. Thus, in consonance with this taking take care of all the technical modalities of being able to bifurcate of whether there was an earthquake or nuclear explosion.  While the CTBT has not entered into force, the US is a signatory and Russia has signed it but yet to ratify it. This is certainly preparing on the ground for the resumption of nuclear explosives testing (“Nuclear Testing-Arms Control Association”).

Thus, all these events of 1985 paved the way for arms control negotiations on three tracks. Firstly, dealing with START agreement in 1991 limiting both sides to 1600 strategic delivery vehicles and 6000 warheads respectively. And, secondly, it was concerned with an intermediate-range missile of particular concern to Europeans and thus paving the way for the INF treaty in 1987. It was regarded as a great disarmament pact even though no nuclear warheads here dismantled and similar air range launched and sea-bed launched missiles were not constrained. Further, as it was a bilateral treaty the treaty eventually did not restrict other countries because this is about bipolarity at that time. And eventually all associated production facilities were closed down. This was the first pact that included verification measures inclusive of on-site verification. A third track is that of intending to address Soviet concerns regarding the US Strategic Defence Initiative, but the outcome of the latter wasn’t fruitful (“An end to arms control consensus, ORF)

In terms of US withdrawal from Anti-Ballistic Missile –a keystone of bilateral nuclear arms control was removed when the USA eventually announced its unilateral withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2001 respectively. There was voicing concern over Novator 9M729 missile tests. And, as Russia began its production there were allegations of violations of the INF Treaty and then the blame game started were in Russia also cast allegations against the US for the deployment of missile defence interceptors in Poland and Romania and reconfiguration of Tomahawk missiles. The geopolitical shift to Indo-Pacific was making the US believe that the INF treaty was putting it at a disadvantage compared to China which is rapidly modernising and currently has 95% of ballistic and cruise missiles in the INF range (“An end to arms control consensus, ORF).

The Trump administration had cited that Russian noncompliance as a motivating factor for its decision. Disputes have arisen because Russia has imposed a limit of 500 km over the Kaliningrad Oblast for treaty flights, refused access to observation flights along its border with the Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and denied planned U.S.-Canadian flights over a Russian military exercise in September 2019 (“US Claim of Illegal Russian Nuclear Testing,”2019).

However, Russian approval and allowance of a joint U.S.-Estonian-Latvian treaty flight over Kaliningrad were not subjected to the earlier Russian restrictions. In addition, as stated by a U.S. representative to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, that Russia will no longer raise an “objection” for the United States and its allies to fly over one of their major exercises. There was the observation of the fact of The Open Skies Treaty is not the first, and may not be the last, nuclear or conflict risk reduction agreement the USA administration has withdrawn from without a viable strategy for replacement (“US Claim of Illegal Russian Nuclear Testing,”2019).

Following a report, China had conducted low-yield nuclear tests which violated the zero-yield moratorium standard practised by nuclear weapons states under the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). It is important to note that both the United States and China have signed the CTBT — but not ratified it. They have, however, given an acceptance to the zero-yield nuclear test ban as a result of the negotiations that took place as a part of CTBT. As stated, China’s possibility of preparation to operate its Lop Nur test site, its use of explosive containment chambers, extensive excavation activities at Lop Nur, and lack of transparency on its nuclear testing activities. Given the great power rivalry and its impact on the global nuclear order, this incident further highlights the cracks in the non-proliferation regime and the crumbling attempts of banning nuclear testing (“At the edge of new nuclear arms race”, 2020).

In recent years, President Vladimir Putin has pushed Russia to make significant efforts to develop new delivery systems for nuclear weapons. These range from a new heavy, land-based intercontinental ballistic missile to various hypersonic weapons systems to a nuclear-armed strategic torpedo and a cruise missile with an intercontinental range. These developments were triggered by the Russian interest in evading U.S. missile defences and ensuring a second-strike capability. In addition, there is a need for constructive openness and painstaking management regarding the establishment of a Middle Eastern zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, which has always been a politically charged and particularly sensitive issue of crucial importance to NPT implementation. Unfortunately, divergent views on the approach and policies to be adopted toward that end, as well as growing divisions in the region, have made it more difficult than ever to achieve early results. Although there is agreement that such a zone cannot be imposed from outside the region, all states should support in a constructive spirit the pursuit of the process started with the first conference regarding the zone, which was held in New York in November 2019. In addition, they should urgently call for steps to be undertaken to build confidence in the Middle East. One such step could consist of the ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention by Egypt and Israel and the intensification of investigations into the persistent allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria (Ludeking, 2020).

Germany has long been an advocate of the incremental approach, and within the so-called Stockholm Initiative, Germany and 15 other non-nuclear-weapon states from all continents agreed on a list of such steps at a ministerial meeting in February in Berlin. The credibility of the disarmament process hinges on the readiness in particular of the nuclear-weapon states to make a move forward in embracing and implementing such steps. For example, the start of negotiations on an internationally verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty could create long-overdue momentum and help the NPT to get back on track (Ludeking, 2020).

Following Billingslea – arms control envoy, that before there is talk about the extension of New START, Russia should bring the Chinese to the negotiating table. Unfortunately, the administration’s entire approach seems to be based on an exaggerated and naive belief that tough talk and threats will somehow coerce Russia and China to make major unilateral concessions. These are all of the events as stated earlier (Reif & Bugos, 2020).

INDIA’s Stance

In these terms, the first point of reflection is towards the 1966 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which remains as an agreement for the prevention of the spread of these weapons outside the original five nuclear-weapon states. Thus, the treaty eventually privileges the status quo and obliges the non-nuclear-weapon states to not acquire nuclear weapons without certain concomitant guarantees on disarmament from Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) respectively. The focus of the deal is to prohibit all tests and explosions. And, thus eventually has yet to come into force because not all the 44 countries with nuclear power reactors would ratify it (“The distance to disarmament”, 2016). And, then the formal negotiations for finalising fissile material cut off treaty couldn’t commence due to problem with the fact of whether a deal should cover existing or future stockpiles of plutonium and lightly enriched uranium to produce nuclear weapons (“Fissile material cut off treaty”,2016).

Now, in terms of the Wassenaar agreement, it is respectively as – that India is a non-acceding state to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as mentioned above whose main focus is the prevention of the spread of nuclear weapons and weapon technology and promotion of nuclear disarmament which India considers is discriminatory and hence, is thus a non-nuclear power. This terminates to the fact of India’s acknowledgement of the nuclear explosion at Pokhran as a culmination into as non-recognition in terms or relation to nuclear power (Sudarshan, 2017).

India thus wanted to open and at the same time recognised as nuclear power and for that to happen it had to be a part of the global non-proliferation structure or architecture. Thus, there are four groupings of countries that multilaterally works to prevent and address the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the Wassenaar agreement is considered one such thing that is part of it. Thus, the list is –as such of the Missile Control Technology Regime, Australia Group, and the Nuclear Suppliers Group –in all this India is a part of Missile Control Technology Regime but is not a member of the other two mentioned above respectively (“India and the clubs control war tech exports,” 2018).

An elaboration on this point of Wassenaar is such that it is a grouping of 42 countries of which India is also a part respectively. The focus is to bring about security and stability and simultaneously foster transparent practices in the process of sales and transfer of arms and materials and technologies that can be used to make nuclear weapons to prevent any undesirable build-up of such capabilities (“India and clubs tech exports”,2018). A further aim is to prevent it from falling into the hands of terrorists. Thus, one of the purposes of the arrangement is fostering and encouraging cooperation to the acquisition of armaments and sensitive dual-use item dual-solitary end users.

Send-users India will also be able to easily access dual-use technologies, materials and military equipment which are proscribed for non-participating members. And India will also be able to sell its nuclear reactors and other material and equipment indigenously produced without attracting any kind of adverse reactions. It will also be better placed in collaborating with other countries in the development of such capabilities.

In terms of nuclear reactors and the fact associated with that of economic aspects is that of encouragement of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and Westinghouse Electric Company for finalisation or completion of the techno-commercial offer for the construction of six nuclear reactors in India. There is also apprehension on the fact of serious incidents as in the case of the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Thus, eventually, Westinghouse wanted assurances on the fact of state responsibility adherence principle which may not be the consequence of a nuclear disaster (Ramana &Raju,2020).

So, the main beneficiary in all this case is reflected that of Westinghouse. There is eventually emphasization on the role of US nuclear developers can play in providing power to other countries. And the economic cost burden falls upon the consumers and taxpayers and in this the costing wholly going into a considerable huge amount in crores. Thus, nuclear power correlation is with the long-term costs as stated and with analogous with the case of radioactive material from the 1986 Chernobyl accident and Fukushima prefecture remaining a radioactive hotspot with cleaning up cost going into billion dollars.

Then, on the other fact is a correlation of India, China and Pakistan-which are in accordance with a report laid down by Swedish think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute are nations such as India and China are continuing to modernise their nuclear arsenals and there is a development of new land and sea-based missile and nuclear-capable aircraft this is in respect to China whereas India and Pakistan are also on equal terms and are gradually and slowly increasing the size and diversity of their nuclear forces. In terms of numerical aspect as put up by Swedish think tank –China’s nuclear arsenal has considerably increased from 290 warheads (2019) to 320 warheads in the year 2020 and simultaneously India and Pakistan are gearing up and reaching out to be 150 or 160 warheads approximately. Thus, there are all together these nine-armed states such as the US, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Israel, and North Korea, which possess weapons on a considerable scale but less in terms of possessed in the year 2019. The decrease is due to the dismantling of old nuclear weapons by Russia and the USA- which together accounts for 90 % of global nuclear weapons (Sood, 2019).

The other point of reiteration is in respect of less information circulated from India and Pakistan in terms of the size and status of nuclear arsenals that they possess respectively. The US used to disclose information about the stockpile and nuclear capabilities was in 2019 but since then has been discontinued.


Conclusively in terms of ascertaining the fact in the present context is that with regards to the different types of treaties that have been mentioned and the point of relevance in the current scenario or to demarcate in clear terms of the stance that are taken are dynamic and thus subsumed to be opposite from the purpose they were adopted. Hence, as mentioned earlier a reference can be made to conduction of nuclear tests with low yields at the Lop Nur test site in China is indicative of violation of its Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty undertaken. And, thus altogether with the demise of CTBT which came into existence in 1996 but has failed to enter into force even after a quarter-century. In all, these things are pointing towards one fact which is that of a new nuclear race in a general manner.


India and the clubs that control war tech exports.(2018,Jan 30 ).The Indian Express. Retrieved from

Kimball, Daryl.(Jun 2021).The Open Skies Treaty at a glance. Arms Control Association. Retrieved from

Kimball, Daryl.(Aug 2019).U.S. Claims of Illegal Russian Nuclear Testing: Myths, Realities, and Next Steps. Arms Control Association. Retrieved from

 Ludeking, Budiger. (Jun 2020).Nuclear Disarmament and Non Proliferation in times of Coronavirus pandemic .Arms Control Association. Retrieved from

Mohan, Pulkit. (2020, Jun 29).United States, Russia and the future of New START. Observer Research Foundation (ORF).Retrieved from

Ramana,M.V. & Raju,Suvrat.(2020, Mar 3 ).Pushing the wrong energy buttons. The Hindu. Retrieved from

Reif,Kingston & Bugos,Shannon.(2020,Aug).No progress towards extending the NEW START.Arms Control Association.Retrieved from

Sood, Rakesh.(2019,Aug 26).An end to arms control consensus. Observer Research Foundation (ORF).Retrieved from

Sood,Rakesh.(2020,Apr 27).At the edge of a new nuclear arms race.The Hindu.Retrieved from

Sood, Rakesh.(2019,Apr 24).An end to arms control consensus. The Hindu. Retrieved from

Sudarshan,V.(2017,Dec 16).Why is Wassenaar Agreement important to India? The Hindu Retrieved from

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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author (s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Jindal Centre for the Global South or its members.

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