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India refuses to sign NPT in order to hang on to nuclear weapons

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News Analysis |

India has ruled out the possibility of joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapon state but said it remains “committed” to a unilateral voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing. “The question of India joining the NPT as NNWS (non-nuclear weapon states) does not arise,” Permanent Representative of India to the Conference on Disarmament Amandeep Singh Gill told the UN General Assembly Thursday.

Speaking at a thematic debate on nuclear weapons, he said that India’s position on the NPT is well-known and should require no reiteration. At the same time, Gill said, India supports upholding and strengthening global non-proliferation objectives, in particular, the full and effective implementation by States of their obligations arising from the relevant agreements and treaties, including the NPT.

The country’s volatile attitude to its neighbors and the reins of government in the hands of violent extremists has raised the possibility of nuclear war in the region

The move for calling India alongside Israel and Pakistan to join the NPT was a group that includes Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and Mexico. This group made no such demand from the other nuclear powers such as Britain, China, France, Russia and the US.

Read more: Pakistan has much stronger credentials for NSG membership than India

The Indian nuclear program started in 1948, a mere year after its creation. The Nehru government justified it to acquire nuclear power as an inexpensive energy source. An Indian Atomic Energy Commission was created that year to oversee the country’s nuclear efforts. The Indian nuclear program was based on plutonium due to the scarcity of uranium. The first nuclear reactor, Apsara, was built in August 1956 in collaboration with the UK.

India sees its nuclear weapons capacity to be an integral part of its vision as a great power, and its nuclear program is important for both its prestige and security doctrine

It conducted nuclear tests for the first time in 1974 and nicknamed them “Buddha is smiling” in order to emphasize their “peaceful” intent. India has justified its nuclear weapons in the face of its Northern neighbor and nemesis, China. It lost a war to China in 1962 and faced a nuclear-armed neighbor after Beijing tested a nuclear device in 1964. Later on, it tried to justify its nuclear endeavors in the form of a nuclear-armed Pakistan. However, Pakistan developed its nuclear capability in response to Delhi’s nuclear designs.

Read more: The US whips up tensions in South Asia; Delhi’s NSG membership…

These tests and the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971 compelled its western neighbor to pursue a similar nuclear program. Nevertheless, India’s intent to acquire nuclear weapons existed even before its creation.

These tests and the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971 compelled its western neighbor to pursue a similar nuclear program. Nevertheless, India’s intent to acquire nuclear weapons existed even before its creation

India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru is on record of having stated that: “As long as the world is constituted as it is, every country will have to devise and use the latest devices for its protection. I have no doubt India will develop her scientific researchers and I hope Indian scientists will use the atomic force for constructive purposes. But if India is threatened, she will inevitably try to defend herself by all means at her disposal.”

India sees its nuclear weapons capacity to be an integral part of its vision as a great power, and its nuclear program is important for both its prestige and security doctrine. Nuclear weapons for India are not much of a deterrent but more of a bludgeon with which it could cow the region. However, Pakistan’s response and its full spectrum deterrence policy has put paid to Indian nuclear ambitions and dented its campaign to dominate South Asia.

Read more: U.S Iran nuclear deal: what will be its implications in the…

While the nuclearization of South Asia was largely the fault of India, things have changed for the worse with a rise of Hindutva fundamentalists to power. The country’s volatile attitude to its neighbors and the reins of government in the hands of violent extremists has raised the possibility of nuclear war in the region.


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