By Asma Khalid
In the contemporary security environment one of the predominant challenges to the world peace and security is the spread of nuclear weapons. The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), since its inception, is considered as universal arms control agreement, which has been adhered to by all states except India, North Korea, Pakistan, Israel and North Sudan.
Nuclear non-proliferation regime today faces various threats from the rising security dilemmas in the global arena. Thus in the light of such challenges, international norms have been established to fight the rising threats. NPT being the penumbra of the NPR has enrooted itself in the in international law and is working towards gaining universality.
Numerous obstacles have been faced by the treaty along its course of existence despite which it has managed to strengthen the international security environment bring a global order. The validity of nuclear non-proliferation treaty is being challenged by continued defiance of the states; due to the states own national interests in anarchical international security environment. Additionally, discriminatory approach by major powers in the implementation of the standards of the Non-Proliferation Regime i.e. as Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Nuclear Supplier Group and Wassaner Arrangements (WA) are employed as an instrument to fulfill the strategic objectives of great-power. The proliferation record in the last few decades has raised questions about the sincerity behind its creation and subsequent application. Such as, since the first nuclear explosion, eight states have detonated the nuclear bomb. This factor shows that nuclear proliferation mechanisms are relatively inadequate to handle prevailing challenges as the suspected cases of nuclear proliferation.
The present scenario regarding the effectiveness of the non-proliferation treaty and its validity today is yet another issue which is being debated on. Whether it should be altered or continue to be as it is? It came into force in 1970 and the world is a more complex place with even more impeding issues than before. In order to enhance its influence and bring under its umbrella those countries that have refused to sign it or have gone against it as NPT has to be amended to some extent in order to fully address their security dilemmas.
Apart from that the discriminatory nature of the treaty by dividing the sates into NWS and NNWS stirs up question like why are other states being deprived of the right to protect themselves for the same reasons that the NWS were doing so. The credibility of the NNWS was being doubted by the very same states who themselves were guilty of lapses in their own security systems as well as nuclear arms buildup; US and USSR Cold War incidents like Cuban missile crisis. Who was to say that history would not repeat itself? If the international security had been endangered once it could be brought to that point again.
In South Asia, Pakistan and India are facing international pressure to join the NPT. Nuclear weapon capabilities and developments are the matter of global concern due to their catastrophic implications. Primarily, technical assistance of the US to India and Indo-US nuclear deal are considered a violation of article I and II of the NPT. Because acceptance of the obligation set a legal limit on future nuclear weapon cooperation with the .S and Non-NPT state as it undermines the vital purpose of NPT to prevent the nuclear proliferation.Furthermore, India-specific exemption to NSG guidelines and its potential inclusion in Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), and membership of Missile Technology Control Regime is disturbing the regional nuclear deterrence equilibrium. As well as forcing Pakistan to indulge in a nuclear arms and missile race to ensure credible deterrence, it is posing serious challenges to the non-proliferation regime. Similarly, country-specific safeguards demonstrate a discriminatory institutional mechanism of the non-proliferation regime and undermine the non-proliferation objectives. Additionally, the Indo-US nuclear deal may encourage the NPT signatory to defy the treaty under the Article X of the NPT, in order topursue their national interests.
Thus in the light of the trends and challenges faced by the non-proliferation regime it cannot be concluded whether NPR is a failed regime or not. But the future of NPT is dependent on the series of events such as US-North Korea negotiations, India’s membership to theNSG, the Indo-US deal and US-Iran deal. Due to these challenges, NPT and Non-Proliferation regimes are extensively seen in distress and Pakistan has repeatedly refused to sign the treaty. The prevailing security landscape and National Security issues demand a non-discriminatory, viable and effective mechanism to resolve the challenges to nuclear non-proliferation efforts.
Asma Khalid is Research Associate at Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), a think-tank based in Islamabad, Pakistan