FLAWS. "Secondly, the CTBT did not envision any linkage with time-bound nuclear disarmament. Without such a linkage, the CTBT has further legitimised the nuclear weapons of the five nuclear weapons states. The Indian representative had explained at Geneva that India could not"accept any restraints on its capability if other countries remain unwilling to accept the obligation to eliminate their nuclear weapons. The US Congress rejected the CTBT and effectively sealed its fate as some Congressmen were convinced that adherence to the treaty would downgrade US efforts to develop More modern nuclear weapons and hamper America's testing of its existing nuclear stockpile.
Much water has flowed down the Yamuna since Ambassador Arundhati Ghose declared at the conference on disarmament at Geneva that India would not sign the unequal and discriminatory CTBT. Since then, India has declared itself a nuclear weapons state and survived two years of economic sanctions and diplomatic opprobrium after the Pokhran tests of May 1998.
India has also had to put up with the preaching of world leaders who had chosen to look the other way when China was blatantly violating the non-proliferation treaty and the Missile Technology Control Regime in its nuclear and missile collusion with Pakistan, directly through missile sales and nuclear technology transfers and indirectly through surrogate states like North Korea supplying Taepo Dong missiles. These leaders are now advising India to sign the CTBT and join the negotiations for the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. Meanwhile, the NPT has also been extended in perpetuity without any reference to time bound total nuclear disarmament.
India had “refused to accept “the CTBT on three fundamental counts. First, it did not address India’s security concerns. Pakistan had already weaponised its nuclear deterrent in 1987 and China was continuing to aid the further refinement of Pakistan’s nuclear warheads and missile delivery systems by transferring tried and tested technologies, leaving India in a disadvantageous position without being able to test and refine its warhead design.
Secondly, the CTBT did not envision any linkage with time-bound nuclear disarmament. Without such a linkage, the CTBT has further legitimised the nuclear weapons of the five nuclear weapons states (NWS —N5). The Indian representative had explained at Geneva that India could not “accept any restraints on its capability if other countries remain unwilling to accept the obligation to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, the N-5 remained mired in power politics and failed to exhibit the statesmanship necessary to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
Thirdly, the treaty permitted means of testing other than explosive testing and wags therefore not comprehensive.
Further, an ingenious “entry into force” clause was deliberately built into the final draft of the CTBT. It stipulated that all the 44 countries possessing nuclear power or research reactors must ratify the CTBT for it to enter into force. This would have compelled India to sign the treaty and denied it the right of voluntary-consent. This was in violation of the Vienna Convention on Treaties which stipulates that a country’s sovereign right to sign or not to sign a treaty cannot be taken away.
It has recently come to light that the N-5 have entered into a secret agreement outside the CTBT to continue sub-critical laboratory tests. This is another example of the subterfuge being practiced on the non-nuclear weapons states.
Since the CTBT opened for Signature on 24 September 1996, it has been signed by 155 countries and, of these, 56 have ratified it. Of the 44 specified nations whose assent had been made mandatory for the treaty’s entry into force, all except India, Pakistan and North Korea have signed it; However, as many as 26 of them including the United States and China are yet to ratify it. Russia has linked its ratification to the continuation of the anti-ballistic missile treaty. The US Congress rejected the CTBT and effectively sealed its fate as some Congressmen were convinced that adherence to the treaty would downgrade US efforts to develop More modern nuclear weapons and hamper America’s testing of its existing nuclear stockpile.
This was despite the US having conducted over 1,000 nuclear tests and archived data for computer simulation and the government having established an elaborate Stockpile Stewardship Management programme at great cost. It is well known that US nuclear physics are working on fourth generation nuclear weapons, including “pure fusion” warheads that use a non-fission trigger and whose testing would not violate the provisions of the CTBT. Another reason that was often cited for the refusal of the US Congress to ratify the CTBT was that the treaty lacked a viable verification, monitoring and enforcement mechanism that could inspire confidence. Glitches in the accurate detection of India’s nuclear tests, which were initially categorised as an earthquake, were cited as an example.
Where does all this leave India? The CTBT still does not address India’s security concerns, there is still no linkage to time-bound total nuclear disarmament and it is still a discriminatory treaty. What has changed is that India has conducted five nuclear tests and gained some confidence in its ability to weaponise its nuclear deterrence. However, the really pertinent issue today is whether India can and should base its nuclear deterrence on just five tests, only one of which was an actual “weapon” test. Also, there can be no doubt that thermonuclear (fusion) weapons offer better deterrence capabilities and provide better weaponisation options as they require lesser fissile material, they are lighter and more compact and have relatively better safety features.
Since only one of the five tests was of a fusion device, it would be unrealistic to expect that weaponisation based on it would generate confidence in the armed forces personnel who will be required to handle and, if it ever becomes necessary, deliver or launch these weapons in a crisis. A nuclear weapon in the armed forces stockpile must satisfy extremely stringent reliability and safety conditions. Even for future computer simulation it would be unwise to use the data obtained from just one test as a reliable benchmark.
Dr PK Iyengar, an eminent nuclear physicist and a former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, has argued forcefully in favour of further testing if India is to weaponise its deterrence. He quotes from the testimony of Richard Garwin, a distinguished nuclear weapons scientist, during the US Senate hearings on the CTBT: “It is possible to build simple nuclear weapons without nuclear explosion tests, but there will always be a nagging doubt whether or how well they will perform…Without nuclear tests of substantial yield, it is difficult to build compact and light fission weapons and essentially Impossible to have any confidence in a large-yield two-stage thermonuclear weapon. Hence, from the scientific point of view, India has no option but to carry out further tests for a credible nuclear deterrence based on robust nuclear weapons that are tried and tested for high confidence levels.
Hence, the decision to sign the CTBT, If it is taken, can only be for political and diplomatic gains. Since such gains would be pitted against critical national security interests, they must be substantial. What quid pro quo could India look for? It has emerged quite clearly after 12 rounds of the post Pokhran II Indo-US dialogue that the US would still like India to “cap, reduce and eliminate” its nuclear weapons and remains unwilling to accept India’s status as a nuclear weapons state. Strobe Talbott has publicly declared that this is a crucial and immutable guideline for our foreign policy. Some analysts have argued for the assurance of permanent membership of the UN Security Council. Others have suggested that India should ask for new nuclear power reactors and the lifting of technology denial regimes and economic sanctions. These are all ephemeral gains that India can live without — gains for which national security interests cannot be sacrificed.
A permanent seat on the Security Council will come India’s way sooner or later. India has survived two years of economic sanctions quite well and technology denial regimes, in force since 1974, have only strengthened India’s resolve and nudged the country more rapidly towards self-reliance
India’s self-imposed moratorium on further nuclear testing was premature. It was a leverage that could have been exploited to gain some of the advantages listed above. The acme of India’s diplomatic skills would be to convince the international community to let India carry out more tests to refine its nuclear weapons before it willingly joins the CTBT. If that proves to be impossible, India has no option but to tout its declared moratorium and stay away from this discriminatory and unequal treaty that is almost as dead as the dodo anyway.