General Studies Paper 2General Studies Paper 3 (International Relations) (Science & Technology)
Question:- 56. ‘It is time to abandon the nuclear non-proliferation treaty as it is beginning to look shaky.’ Comment. Answer in 150 words.
Sep 03, 2022



The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is an international treaty which was negotiated during the 1960s to reconcile three competing objectives – controlling the further spread of nuclear weapons beyond the P-5 countries (the US, the USSR, the UK, France and China) that had already tested; committing to negotiating reductions of nuclear arsenals leading to their elimination; and sharing benefits of peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology. The Treaty does not affect the right of state parties to develop, produce, and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. India is one of the only five countries that either did not sign the NPT or signed but withdrew.

The Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) concluded recently. The aftermath of the February  Russian ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine and the threat of potential use of nuclear weapons pose a grave risk to the efficacy of the NPT. The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the world faced “a nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War”.


The weaknesses of NPT can be listed as under:


  • 1.Consensus document: Since 1970, when the NPT entered into force, only four of the 10 review conferences have concluded with a consensus document.
  • 2. Differences among members: The United States, the United Kingdom and Russia were earlier always on the same page, but now Russia has adopted a different point of view. The difference in 2022 was that it pitched Russia against the West.
  • 3.Withdrawal from ABM treaty: US withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002 on the grounds that it unduly constrained its missile defence activities.
  • 4. US withdrawal from INF: In 2019, the U.S. decided to quit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
    • It had obliged both the US and Russia to get rid of all ground-launched missiles with a range of 500-5,500 km.
  • 5. Almost 13,000 nuclear weapons are now being held in arsenals around the world- the nuclear arsenals of China and Russia have grown; the UK has raised the cap on the maximum number of warheads and the five nuclear states spent billions of dollars on nuclear weapons.


Over the past 77 years, global efforts have sought to realise the dream of nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear weapons free world and universal disarmament. In this respect, the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has been a significant pillar.


  • 1. Talks between the US and Russia: Arms control talks between the U.S. and Russia did take place and succeeded in bringing collective arsenals from about 65,000 in the early 1980s to less than 12,000
  • 2.Only four countries have tested and developed nuclear arsenals: In the last 50 years, only four more countries have gone on to test and develop nuclear arsenals — India, Israel, North Korea and Pakistan, despite apprehensions that by the 1980s, there would be close to 25 nuclear powers.
  • 3.Reagan-Gorbachev declaration: All that the five nuclear-weapon-states parties to the NPT reiterated at the conference., the 1985 Reagan-Gorbachev declaration that ‘a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought’.



(After weeks of intensive but productive negotiations, the Russian Federation alone decided to block consensus on a final document at the conclusion of the Tenth Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in order to block language that merely acknowledged the grave radiological risk at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine.)

Despite Russia’s cynical obstructionism, the fact that all the other remaining States Parties were able to support the final document speaks to the Treaty’s essential role in preventing nuclear proliferation and averting the danger of nuclear war. NPT Parties affirmed the need for action on arms control, proliferation crises, and expanded access to peaceful nuclear energy, science, and technologies, especially among states of the global south. Amid a challenging international political and security environment, the extent to which NPT States Parties found common ground in support of strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime is remarkable. The Nuclear NPT is an essential pillar of international peace and security. Nevertheless, NPT has made the world safer and more prosperous for over fifty years.


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