Academic journal article International Journal on World Peace

Expanding Nuclear Threats to Peace: Prospects for the Non-Proliferation Regime

Academic journal article International Journal on World Peace

Expanding Nuclear Threats to Peace: Prospects for the Non-Proliferation Regime

Article excerpt

1.INTRODUCTION

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)1 is the cornerstone of the nonproliferation regime and covers three mutually reinforcing pillars: nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. More importantly, the NPT is the basis for international cooperation on stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction. However, the equality in the Treaty, to which 190 states subscribed, has been discussed since it entered into force in 1970.

After signing the Treaty, some states, especially India, were opposed to the nuclear apartheid of Article I and II of the NPT-dividing states into two groups of non-nuclear and nuclear states-and saw this as the basis of the inequality in the Treaty.2 In fact, although the NPT has been the key preventive barrier to nuclear proliferation, it "enshrined formal tolerance of the continued possession of armouries by the five nuclear-weapon states which had conducted nuclear explosive tests before the Treaty was concluded, alongside renunciation by all other states acceding to the Treaty. From the outset this feature, though accepted by all the parties through their ratifications of the Treaty [in order to fulfill the nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation obligations], was criticized as incompatible with any expectation that the Treaty regime could remain stable and effective."3 On a practical level, nuclear disarmament is the focal point and the main objective of the NPT, yet an examination of the text of the Treaty shows that its drafters focused on the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the identification of the states that acquire them.4

One of the main objectives of the NPT is to prevent an increase in the number of nuclear-weapon states. For this purpose, the NPT regime prohibits the acquisition of nuclear weapons by states that did not have such weapons and other nuclear explosive devices prior to 1 January 1967. Despite the broad scope of the NPT, there is a critical gap in the Treaty. Three of the nine states that have nuclear weapons (Israel, Pakistan, and India) are not yet party to the Treaty, and one of them (North Korea) withdrew from the Treaty. Therefore, even if it is accepted that there is no problem in the implementation of the NPT regime, almost half of the nuclear-weapon states have remained outside its scope. Despite everything, it should be noted that the NPT has the qualification of an international treaty in some sections of the Treaty, offering the clarity and accuracy in the interpretation of states' legal obligations. For instance, Article VI of the Treaty has given place to the principle of "general and complete disarmament" under a strict and effective international regime of control, which has not yet been realized. According to Article VI of the NPT, "Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control." In this context, the nuclear-weapon states have undertaken not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states. In accordance with this obligation, the Non-Aligned Movement5 has accepted the NPT regime as a means to nuclear disarmament.

Evidence indicates that some nuclear powers, such as the United States and France, have renewed and expanded their nuclear arsenals since the 2000s. All of these nuclear developments have strengthened the argument of the inequality in the NPT regime. Substantially, the attitude of the nuclear-weapon states has led to instability concerning non-compliance with NPT provisions. In other words, following the nuclear-weapon states' non-adherence to their nuclear disarmament obligations, the non-nuclearweapon states' confidence in the Treaty has been shaken; in these circumstances, their access to peaceful nuclear energy has also been restricted, or better stated has become almost impossible. …

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