At the edge of New Nuclear Arms Race

  • IASbaba
  • April 27, 2020
  • 0
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Topic: General Studies 2 & 3:

  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India
  • India’s Security challenges

At the edge of New Nuclear Arms Race

Context: US State department in its reports have stated that 

  • Russia has conducted nuclear weapons experiments 
  • China might be conducting nuclear tests with low yields at its Lop Nur test site

However, both Russia and China have rejected the U.S.’s claims

What does these allegations by US suggest?

  • Growing strategic competition between major powers 
  • Suggests the end of the CTBT that came into being in 1996 but has failed to enter into force even after a quarter century.

What is CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty)?

  • CTBT is a global treaty that aims to ban all nuclear explosions across the world. 
  • It provides a legally binding norm against nuclear testing and was open for signature from 1996
  • However, the Treaty enters into force when 44 specific States signs and ratifies it. These States had nuclear facilities at that time & included India 
  • Till date, 36 have ratified the treaty. 
  • China, Egypt, Iran, Israel and the U.S. have signed but not ratified. 
  • India, North Korea and Pakistan have not yet signed the Treaty but all three have undertaken tests after 1996

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization(CTBTO)

  • It was founded in 1996 to promote the Treaty so that it can enter into force. 
  • It also establishes a verification regime to monitor adherence to the Treaty.
  • The CTBT verification includes
    • International Monitoring System (IMS), 
    • International Data Centre (IDC)
    • On-site inspections (OSI).

Criticism of the Treaty

  • Defining the “comprehensive test ban” as a “zero yield” test ban that would prohibit supercritical hydro-nuclear tests but not sub-critical hydrodynamic nuclear tests. 
  • Anchoring the CTBT in a disarmament framework, as proposed by India, was not accepted
  • The treaty’s entry-into-force- provisions, which listed 44 countries by name, was protested by India as arm-twisting tactic and violation of Sovereign right of India
  • CTBTO is largely funded by US and unable to promote the treaty effectively.

Recent trends in Nuclear Arms

  • The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) that limits U.S. and Russian arsenals will expire in 2021 and US is not inclined to extend it
  • US has embarked on a $1.2 trillion nuclear modernisation plan spanning 30 years
  • China has also embarked on modernisation plan to enhance the lifespane of its smaller nuclear arsenal
  • Russia has responded by developing hypersonic delivery systems

Potential for a New Arms race

  • US wants to China into some kind of nuclear arms control agreement
  • But China is not interested by pointing to the fact that the U.S. and Russia still account for over 90% of global nuclear arsenals.
  • China also maintains that it will ratify CTBT only after the U.S.
  • This indicates the increasing divergence between US and China trade and technology disputes, militarisation in the South China Sea and coronavirus pandemic. 
  • U.S. could also be preparing the ground for resuming nuclear testing at Nevada indicating the beginning of new arms race


The developments between US and China could be the signs for a new cold war

Connecting the dots:

  • India’s Nuclear Doctrine
  • India’s attempt to become a member of Nuclear Supplier Group

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