Ever since the First World War, various countries in the western world had started researching in military weapons and artillery in order to strengthen their country's security. Newer and more advanced weapons continued to be inducted in the armed forces of developed and industrialized nations in the world particularly Soviet Union, United States of America, United Kingdom, Japan and Germany. While all these countries had started their researches for development of nuclear weapons as early as 1930s, the United States of America officially emerged as the first country to have nuclear weapons developed.
While development of nuclear weapons was initially considered as an individual nation's effort to strengthen its country's security and sovereignty, it was in August 1945 when the idea of nuclear proliferation and nuclear warfare alarmed the international community. This was when the United States of America bombed to cities in Japan, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, using nuclear artillery. The implications of the two bombs, which carried small volume of fissile material was such that the international community included the victim nation felt the need to cease the occurrence of nuclear warfare in the future. While Japan and Germany, the two parties in the Second World War, ceased the research and development of atomic bombs and nuclear artillery, there were various other nations which deemed it necessary to invest in the development of nuclear arms as a guarantee of the protection of the state sovereignty.
With the increase in the efforts for development of atomic bombs by various nations, the international community felt an immense need to hinder the spread of nuclear artillery on prder to protect the planet's future. For this reason the International Atomic Energy Agency was formed in 1957 that acted as a regulatory authority for nuclear development.
The term Nuclear proliferation primarily refers to the transfer of fissile material, centrifuges, uranium and other enrichment materials, technology or technological assistance for development of nuclear artillery and any other information that may assist in development of nuclear weapons to a country that is not officially recognized as a nuclear weapon state.
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
While the efforts for proliferation of weapon applicable nuclear programs had started as early as immediately after the Second World War, an official agreement was drafted in 1968 called the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, commonly known as NPT. To this date this treaty has about 189 countries as its signatories. The primary objective of this treaty is to strengthen international support in order to stop spread of weapon applicable nuclear technology and development of nuclear arms. As per this treaty the signatories of the treaty are bound to disarm themselves if they have already developed and/or acquired nuclear weapons and to promise not to get involved in development of nuclear arms if they have not already developed nuclear weapons.
With the rapid depletion of non-renewable energy resources and immense dependence over these resources due to increase in demand, the international community however acknowledges the application of nuclear technology as a potential energy resource. At the same time high levels of generation of nuclear power have the potential to increase the proliferation of weapon applicable nuclear technology and fissile materials. This is because most scientists agree that an industrialized nation who has a capacity to generate nuclear power can also have a potential to develop nuclear arms using the same technology. This contention of the international community adds to another motive of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which is peaceful accessibility towards nuclear energy.
The objectives stated earlier constitute the three basic pillars of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty namely (a) non-proliferation; (b) disarmament; and (c) peaceful usage of nuclear energy. The signatory members of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty also include the five officially recognized Nuclear Weapon States (NWS). While these states have not formally signed any binding to disarm themselves, they have signed undertakings that require them to promise not to share their nuclear weapons, nuclear technology, information regarding development of nuclear weapons or fissile materials to any other country that is not a recognized Nuclear Weapon State. It is however reported that these undertakings have been signed as a separate documents and are not formally incorporated into the text of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Effectiveness of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
While on paper, the Nuclear Nonproliferation seems to be a legislative document drafted in the larger interest of the international community, there are many factions in the global arena who have continued to raise questions over the intent behind the treaty and the effectiveness of the treaty as a whole from time to time. According to The Disarmament Debate (2005), the regime under former president of United States of America, George W. Bush had policies that had adverse implications on the effectiveness of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. It had been reported that the United States of America have been sharing its weapon applicable nuclear technology with the countries that are part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations. Many factions of the international community argue that this act falls under the classification of nuclear proliferation (Alley 2000).
Another contention regarding the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that has been consistently put forth by the international community is the 'real intent' behind the treaty. There is a school of thought in the global arena which sees the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as a discriminatory document. This school of thought argues that this document creates a military misbalance between the Nuclear Weapon States and the countries that are not part of Nuclear Weapons. This is because while the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty demands disarmament of nuclear weapons from the countries who have already acquired the nuclear weapons, this clause is not applied to and complied by the five Nuclear Weapon States. The argument given for this misbalance by the authorities is that this treaty does not demand disarmament from the Nuclear Weapons States which had acquired and developed weapon applicable nuclear technology before 1968. On the other hand the Nuclear Weapon States are bound to help in nonproliferation by signing a separate undertaking as stated earlier. This kind of an exception for the Nuclear Weapon States has been often seen as an unfair play under the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty. There is viewpoint that the Nuclear Weapon States are imposing disarmament on the countries that are non-Nuclear Weapon States and are creating a military misbalance. The argument that the United States of America had put forth in opposition to this viewpoint is that it would be dangerous for the U.S.A. To disarm itself from nuclear weapons in hope that other countries will follow the suit. This is because not all states can be trusted and some rogue states can see the disarmament of USA as a potential weakness which can be a threat for the country's national security and sovereignty (Litman 2003).
Another factor that raises the questions over the effectiveness of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is China's consistent support to Pakistan for the development of nuclear power. It is to be noted that while China is an officially recognized Nuclear Weapon State, both India and Pakistan are not signatories to the treaty and have successfully developed nuclear weapons. The international community was alarmed when both India and Pakistan carried out several nuclear tests back to back, thus indicating a potential threat of nuclear arms race. While India had openly put forth its opposition for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty claiming it to be an unfair document, Pakistan's contention is that it can only be a signatory to the treaty if India becomes a signatory to it in good faith. It must be noted that both India and Pakistan have been arch rivals since the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 and both the countries had been head to head with each other on multiple occasions. On these grounds the contention raised by the Government of Pakistan is that while they do not support the spread of nuclear weapons and discourage nuclear warfare, becoming a single signatory to the treaty without India signing the treaty would be a threat to the security and sovereignty of the country. That said, the fluctuating and usually tensed relations between the two countries and their tendency to come at war with each other on multiple occasions had rang many alarms in the international arena. China's open assistance to Pakistan for nuclear power development, which is not a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, is also questioned as such assistance can encourage not only in mass production of nuclear weapons but also accessibility to fissile materials by unauthorized personnel and terrorist outfit if the country has high level of corruption and political and economic instability. It must be noted that Pakistan has been consistently high on corruption scores and the country has been under wave of terrorism ever since after 9/11. Moreover, the global arena sees Pakistan having mass pockets of terrorist outfits with several different terrorist organizations and insurgents operating within the country's geographical boundaries (Thakur 199).