By Muhammad Ali Zoaib
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) requests for prohibition of all forms of nuclear tests. Many international experts consider it as a second serious step to control nuclear proliferation after nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The idea to ban nuclear test was passed in ninth session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1954, thirteen years before NPT enforced and it is on UNGA agenda since 1957. Later, the idea of banning nuclear test flourished and nuclear weapon states kept on improving and testing their arsenals. In 1963, Soviet Union tested 50 mega ton Hydrogen Bomb. The health problems because of nuclear weapon tests in atmosphere forced nations to signed Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT). Underground tests were kept on by NPT signatory nuclear states until early 1990s. In early 1990 most of developed countries established computer based techniques that can help them to calculate success and yield of nuclear weapons.In 1996, major nuclear powers started working on draft of CTBT and many nations were ready to sign it but a real turning point was that, when the US senate rejected it in 1999. Since then many international scholars called it a dead horse.
Pakistan and India arenot signatories of NPT but have nuclear weapons. In past Pakistan was an advocate of Nuclear disarmament and participated several conferences from 1984 to 1986 to achieve nuclear disarmament through a nuclear test ban treaty. In 1987, it proposed a regional Nuclear Weapons Free Zone for South Asia but it was rejected by India.In 1996, Pakistan voted in favour of CTBT but India voted against it. In May 1998, India tested its nuclear devices and forced Pakistan to follow suit. In 1998 the discussion to sign CTBT was at peak and Pakistan showed its willingness to signed CTBT, with a condition that if India would reciprocate and US lift sanctions.In 1999, President Musharraf said that the objective of CTBT can only be achieved if there is coercion free environment in South Asia. After formation of Command and Control structure, Pakistan issued a statement showing that it believes in “minimum credible deterrence.”Latter in 2001, Pakistan proposed strategic restraint regime in South Asia in which once again there was a suggestionfor bilateral suspension of nuclear tests and it was rejected by India. It is important to note that nuclear free zone in South Asia has been suggestedmany times by Pakistan but India rejected it every time. In 2003, Pakistan was pressurized to disarm unilaterally but it was rejected on the basis of its security concerns. Pakistan has now changed its stance on disarmament and is working for full fledge deterrence. Several international reports are showing that Pakistan has more nuclear weapons compared to India. India is conventionally superior and the present Indian nuclear doctrine of second strike capability and no first use is just because of Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons. If Pakistan gives up its nuclear weapons the chance of conventional attack by India will be much more.
Few years ago, Indian scientists wanted to test more nuclear weapons. But Indian political leadership did not agreebecause of international pressure. Indian 1998 weapon tests were not totally successful; it has been accepted by an Indian scientist Dr. K. Santhanam. Seventeen years have been passed after these tests. During this periodboth India and Pakistan will have prepared some new designs for their nuclear weapons. In future, it is possible that India may test these new designs but international community can pressurize India not to do so. It can be threaten by sanctions or other trade embargoes and such restrictionwill be injurious to its growing economy. This time economy is more important for India than anything else. The growing strategic relations between India and US have changed possibilities of economic restrictions as well. The US needs a watch dog in Indian Ocean and in Asia Pacific to contain China. India is best suited for this purpose as it has border conflict with China; its defence and wealth also make it best option for US to handle China. Is it possible that India may go for nuclear testswithout facing any reaction from US? It is important to note that US has not allowed Israel to test its nuclear weapons in Middle East. Many analysts believe that Israel was facilitated by the US to test its weapons on Prince Edward Islands in North Atlantic Ocean in September 1979. It is possible US may facilitate Indiawith such type of secrete tests. Defence cooperation between India and the US is increasing and there is a strong possibility that US may share its computer testing techniques with India. On the other hand, Pakistan tests were declared successful. If India tests its nuclear weapons, it is possible that Pakistan may consider it as an opportunity to test some nuclear weapons designed for plutonium. It may cost too much for Pakistan so here it is necessary to take decision must be taken according to interest of Pakistan. The current economic condition of Pakistan is very and weak it cannot bear even little sanctions.
Presently, CTBT is not at top priority in international nuclear politics, so it cannot be expected that it will be signed and ratified soon by all major powers but India and Pakistan have to design their policy about future tests. The existing deterrence in South Asia does not require any more tests as well. Both India and Pakistan are aware of each other’s nuclear capabilities and the whole world knows that both have nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons have no formal role in warfare. Mao called these weapons are “paper tigers” and their increasing number have no connection with the strength of defence. Moreover, both countries have more threats from internal enemy rather than each other or external enemy. The internal enemy can be handled only with conventional capability. So, it is necessary to modernize these forces rather than spending too much on increasing and testing their nuclear arsenals.
(The author of this article holds master degree in Defense and Strategic Studies from Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad and works as an independent defense analyst and can be reached via 0300-5142840 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jun 22, 2018 0
The 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference is scheduled for April 8 to 11 in Boao, Hainan Province. The forum will be themed "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."
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