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Nuclear Disarmament – NPT & CTBT

Nuclear Disarmament – NPT & CTBT

Development along with peace and security are the cardinal objectives of the era. Since the rise in the scientific knowledge, the destructive capacity of weapons have drastically increased and it has been one of the biggest danger to humankind.

                       How can one forget the mass destruction by nuclear bombing on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6th and 9th August 1945 respectively?

So, here we are, living in 2017, 7 decades from that unforgettable disaster, it is worthy to discuss how far we’ve come and what we’ve done to control the deadliest of weapons collectively.


The meaning of Disarmament:

According to Hans J. Morgenthau, “ Disarmament is the reduction or elimination of certain or all armaments for the purpose of ending the armament race.”

Nuclear Disarmament, in general sense, means the liquidation of nuclear weapons, a world order, in which all nuclear instrumentalities of warfare will be abolished. There will be no weapon of mass destruction. It is, however, an idealistic aim to achieve if we look at the current world scenario. But the big powers of global politics have made some efforts in this field. We will not try to seek the political reasons and the power game behind the efforts made by the big powers here. Let’s discuss the positives and negatives of the efforts.


NOTE : [Those states who have detonated a nuclear explosive before 1 January 1967 are nuclear weapons states under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, they also happen to be the UN Security Council‘s permanent members with veto power on UNSC resolutions. ( USA, France, Russia, China, and the UK)

All other states are non-nuclear weapon states.]



Initially, NPT was proposed by the USA and the USSR as a joint treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear states. The treaty was submitted to UN General Assembly for consideration on 11th March 1968 & the General Assembly passed the treaty by 95 to 4 votes and 21 abstentions on 12th June 1968. It actually came into force on 5th March 1970. However, some countries, including India, have refused to sign it on the ground that it is a discriminatory treaty designed to perpetuate the gap between the nuclear and non-nuclear nations.  On 11 May 1995, the Treaty was extended indefinitely.  A total of 191 States has joined the Treaty, including the five nuclear-weapon States. More countries have ratified the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement, a testament to the Treaty’s significance.


Main provisions:

  1. All nuclear weapon states, parties to the treaty, will not transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons directly or indirectly; and will not assist, encourage or induce any non-nuclear weapon state to manufacture or otherwise. (Article 1)
  2. No non-nuclear weapon state will receive the transfer from any power any type of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices directly or indirectly and will not manufacture or otherwise acquire the nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive devices, and also will not seek or receive any assistance in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. ( Article 2)
  3. It permits the nuclear weapon states to provide assistance to non-nuclear weapon states for peaceful use of nuclear technology. (Article 4)
  4. Each party will have the right withdraw from the treaty if it decides that extraordinary events, related to the subject-matter of this treaty, have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country. (Article 10)
  5. It guarantees security to non-nuclear weapon states by nuclear weapon states in case of nuclear attack.


  1. It is a discriminatory treaty. It perpetuates the superiority of nuclear weapon states over non-nuclear weapon states.
  2. Strengthens and legitimizes the gap between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states.
  3. Failed to check big powers like China and France.

Critics assert NPT as a failure as it did not solve the problem of nuclear weapons or nuclear disarmament. Three reviews were done for NPT in 1975, 1980 and 1985 but they failed to secure or improve the provisions of this treaty.


The CTBT was signed in 1996. It seeks to ban all nuclear tests in future. As NPT, CTBT also establishes the superiority of nuclear weapon states over non-nuclear weapon states.

Main provisions:

  1. It permits the nuclear weapon states to maintain their nuclear stockpiles as well as to undertake further research and improvement through Laboratory testing and Computer simulating.
  2. An international monitoring system is to be set up for checking violations of CTBT.
  3. Any underground, atmospheric or underwater explosions more powerful than the equivalent of 1,000 tonnes of conventional explosive shall be detected by a network of 20 stations to be set up.
  4. Any country can request an inspection to see whether an explosion had been carried out or not on the basis of information collected by the international monitoring system. A request would require 30 votes in the 51 member executive council.


  1. The treaty is not a comprehensive one as it only bans nuclear weapon tests. Computer simulated tests can be used by the nuclear haves to go ahead in perfecting their weapon system.
  2. The nuclear weapon states retain their advantage because of their head start in modernizing their arsenals if they decide to withdraw; the treaty allows withdrawal without the sanction of signatories and permits the nuclear five to maintain their design teams and laboratories.

India vetoed the CTBT at the Conference on Disarmament in August 1996 at Geneva. India and Pakistan both conducted nuclear tests and refused to sign it. They were economically sanctioned by big powers. In November 1999, the US Senate also refused to ratify the CTBT as signed by the US President. It raised many doubts over the actual position of the treaty. The treaty is still open for the non-signatories to be a part of it.



After the disaster the world saw in 1945(Hiroshima and Nagasaki), it was a need of time to have a check on the drastic increase of weapon race. NPT and CTBT were intended to do that and it was not a big but satisfactorily successful. However, the nuclear race divided the world into categories like Nuclear Powers like- USA, Russia, France, China, and the UK; Developing Nuclear Powers like- India and Pakistan; Possible Nuclear Powers like- Israel, South Africa, Iran, North Korea; Peaceful Nuclear powers like Canada; and Non-Nuclear Powers. Through NPT and CTBT big powers (P5) have tried to maintain their supremacy. The USA claims it as a sole superpower on its nuclear capacity. But, India has demanded, on several occasions the linking of NPT and CTBT with total nuclear disarmament. However, nuclear powers are not inclined to accept this view. Thus, the issue of nuclear weapons continues to be an issue of global politics and its end can’t be seen in near future.




other references-

  1. Ghai,U.R., International Politics: Theory & Practice, New Academic Publishing co., Jalandhar, India, 2015.
  2. Johari,J.C. International Relation and Politics, Sterling Publishers Private Limited, New Delhi, India, 2015.


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About Anupam Shukla

Learner II Law Student II Political Philosophy II Cricket fan II

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