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2017: The year in which nuclear weapons could be banned?

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] A [/yt_dropcap]t the end of 2016, the General Assembly of the United Nations voted by a large majority (Resolution 71/258 of 23 December 2016) to convene in 2017 a UN conference to negotiate a ‘legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination’. The result of the vote was 113 in favour, 35 against and 13 abstentions.

Four of the five nuclear weapon states—France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States—voted against, along with the majority of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) states plus Australia, Israel, Japan and South Korea, all of which rely on US nuclear guarantees. Interestingly, North Korea voted in favour. Those abstaining included China (the only nuclear weapon state that did not vote against), India, the Netherlands, Pakistan and Switzerland.

An organizational meeting was held at the UN in New York on 16 February 2017, attended by more than 100 states, to plan for this conference. Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica was selected as the president of the conference, which will be convened on 27–31 March and 15 June–7 July in accordance with Resolution 71/258. The meeting also agreed on the conference agenda and rules of procedure. The rules will be those of the UN General Assembly, which require a two-thirds majority for matters of substance and a simple majority for procedural matters, hence no state(s) will be able to block decisions on outlawing nuclear weapons.

This push to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons by a large majority of non-nuclear weapon states has opened up stark differences not only with states possessing nuclear weapons, but also within the ranks of the non-nuclear weapon states. States in nuclear-armed alliances such as NATO and the USA’s Pacific allies, plus Russia, vehemently oppose any negotiations on a multilateral treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, while declaring support for achieving a world without nuclear weapons through an undefined ‘step-by-step’ or ‘phased’ approach with no defined timeline.

Three previous international conferences (Oslo 2013, Nayarit 2014 and Vienna 2015) drew global attention to the deep concern over the pervasive threat to humanity posed by the existence of nuclear weapons and the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any detonation of a nuclear explosive. Given these risks, the majority of non-nuclear weapon states stressed the need for urgent action by all states towards achieving a world without nuclear weapons and noted that progress to date towards nuclear disarmament had been very slow. These states also highlighted that the 1968 Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) had obligated nuclear weapon states to disarm, but nearly 50 years after the NPT entered into force, this obligation has not been met and there are no signs of it being met.

The majority of non-nuclear weapon states also noted that there was a legal gap regarding the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons, as there was no nuclear disarmament treaty along the lines of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention that respectively prohibited biological and chemical weapons and mandated their total elimination. Accordingly, these states proposed four distinct approaches for the pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons: (a) a comprehensive nuclear weapon convention; (b) a nuclear weapon ban treaty; (c) a framework agreement; and (d) a progressive approach based upon ‘building blocks’ of legal and non-legal measures as well as confidence-building measures.

Some NATO states responded that there was no such legal gap and that the NPT provided an essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament. They stressed that the international security environment, current geopolitical situation and role of nuclear weapons in existing security doctrines should be taken into account in the pursuit of any effective measures for nuclear disarmament, and as such, a nuclear weapon ban treaty was not in their national security interests. These states also maintained that a nuclear weapon ban treaty would create confusion regarding the implementation of the NPT and complicate fulfilment of the NPT’s nuclear disarmament obligations.

In fact, a nuclear weapon ban treaty would not affect the NPT. Those states that are parties to the NPT would still be bound by it and obligated to its full implementation. A nuclear ban treaty could go beyond the NPT and prohibit possession of nuclear weapons and deployment of nuclear weapons (including in foreign states, as for example in Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey which host US nuclear weapons under NATO auspices). Just as the 1963 Partial Test-Ban Treaty banning nuclear test explosions in the atmosphere, outer space and under water does not conflict with the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty banning all nuclear test explosions, a nuclear weapon ban treaty would not be in conflict with the NPT.

All the signs are that the negotiations in March and June–July will be fraught with deeply held differences among the participating non-nuclear weapon states. There are fears that those NATO and allied non-nuclear weapon states which might participate will run interference and complicate the discussions on behalf of the nuclear weapon states. Another fault line could be between those non-nuclear weapon states that want a quick, short norm establishing a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons and those that might prefer a more detailed treaty with provisions on verification.

Civil society participation at the UN conference in March and June–July could be a prominent feature for the first time in multilateral negotiations on a nuclear weapon treaty. However, some states have already raised concerns at the organizational meeting in February regarding the participation of civil society and may attempt to curtail its influence or involvement.

Whether 2017 will be the year that finally sees nuclear weapons being banned or whether the effort to achieve this objective is stymied remains to be seen.

First published in Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

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How 1971 war Brought Pakistan Closer to Nuclear Bomb

Qura tul ain Hafeez

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Ever since its independence Pakistan is a neighbor of shrewd enemy who always tried nothing better than to undo and divide Pakistan into pieces like what it did in the war of 1971. So it was necessary for Pakistan to acquire a security mechanism that can balance the power equation in the region. It’s pertinent to flash back in the history to answer the question that why after the war of 1971 it was necessary for Pakistan to acquire nuclear weapon. It was not the first time when India entered into to direct full-fledged war with Pakistan in 1971.At the time of independence there were almost 650 princely states in subcontinent that were ruled by princes. These states were given the option by the British Government to either adjoin with India or Pakistan.  Based on the religious line the Majority of the population of Kashmir, Junagarh and Hyderabad Dakan decided to adjoin with Pakistan however India maintained its hostility and once again propagated with the Hindu Raja’s (the ruler of states) and included them in India. Only it was Kashmir which was divided into Indian occupied and Azad Jamu Kashmir as a result of Indo-Pak War of 1948.

Continuing in its conspiracy against Pakistan India waged a war once again in 1965. It did not stop here played its role in giving Pakistan a huge loss in 1971.In the history of Pakistan the Indo-Pak war of 1971 has marked perhaps the darkest memory. It was the time when Pakistan was already weak and trying to overcome the suffering of 1965.Moreover, the internal political instabilities due to the economic, political rights of the people of East Pakistan. Various ethnic and lingual differences were contributing to destabilize the central command. India who was already for the moment just jumped in the scenario. It further fueled the burning conflict the make the situation worse. Furthermore in all this scenario Bengali population was an easy prey for Indian propaganda because they were already being exploited economically and politically. Thus the political clashes between the eastern and the western side of Pakistan turned into ethnolinguistic civil war.  The Indian government supported muktibahini and fed them with the arms and weapons eventually declaring war against Pakistan. This shredded Pakistan into two pieces. Pakistan lost its eastern half-1,600km (990 miles) of India as a result Bangladesh emerged as a new country in south Asia’s map.

Consequently due to such a huge loss Pakistan suffered a lot economically as well as politically. In the very same era while Pakistan was not strong enough and suffering from the wounds of 1971 war India launched it’s so called “peaceful nuclear test” in 1974. Indian nuclear tests create a security dilemma for Pakistan and a further hampered the security situation for Pakistan. In South Asia the geostrategic environment has always been very complex volatile and vulnerable it was quite difficult for Pakistan to assure its survival and national security interests without nuclear technology. In order to secure its vital foreign policy, territorial integrity and to maintain deterrence against its enemy (hostile India) Pakistan started its efforts to acquire Nuclear weapon and in 1998 did successful nuclear tests.

Currently if Pakistan did not have acquired a nuclear technology India must have done the same on the western border i.e. Baluchistan what it has done earlier in East Pakistan. Although it is very much involved in watering the seeds of the terrorist activities in Baluchistan.

Today it has been 48 years still India is engaged in fermenting trouble in Pakistan through its proxies like BLA and TTP. Kulbushan Yadave an Indian spy caught by Pakistan Intelligence is an example of Indian propaganda which shows that. India continues to kept propagating against Pakistan which is causing various internal security threats including the biggest one i.e. terrorism. Moreover the recent attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi on 23 November, 2018 by BLA is one of another Example of Indian conspiracy by feeding the terrorist groups in Pakistan. However it’s now difficult for India to lodged a full fledge war against Pakistan like past because now Pakistan has acquired nuclear technology and war against Pakistan means mutual destruction for India as well. This time purpose behind India’s vested activities is to   distract the unity all across the country by targeting all those developmental and economic projects which are being established under the umbrella of CPEC.

Now Pakistan has learned security lessons from East Pakistan. It is aware of India’s motivations and its presence in Afghanistan and Iran. Pakistan is now moving for good diplomatic relations and friendly regime in Afghanistan so we can be friends with them. Pakistan is one of the top countries who are fighting against terrorism and extremism. Now Pakistan is the world’s 7th atomic power. Its army is one of the most efficient army of the world and it knows how to defend its countries against the enemies like India.

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European army: An apple of discord

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The initiative of creating a European Army actually is in the air of the European Union.

Both French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel declared this month that they support the need to create a joint European army. By the way these two countries are the strongest EU member states from economic and political points of view. Their words are not just “air shaking” but the subject to think it over.

France is the only remaining nuclear power in the EU once Britain leaves the organization – and Germany – its major economic power. Both countries make up about 40 % of the industrial and technological base in Western and Central Europe, as well as 40 % of the EU overall capabilities and of combined defence budgets.

The main reason why European leaders voiced the initiative now can be considered from two different points of view. From one hand this can be the indicator of European fears of Russia, China and even the US military activities. According to Macron, “an EU army is needed to “protect ourselves” with respect to these states.”

On the other hand such initiative can be used by France and Germany to stop the US from weakening Europe and promoting its interests in the region. Donald Trump reacted to the statement by tweeting: “Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two – How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!” Thus, he tied closely the idea of a European Army to his demand to increase defence spending to NATO.

At the same time the initiative of strengthening the European collective defence capabilities not only irritates the US but scares many EU countries as well.

As for the Baltic States, they have not formed their official opinion yet. The matter is the Baltics are “between two fires.” The EU membership gives them good political positions in Europe where they try to gain respect and influence. But the US remains their main financial donor and security guarantee at the moment. They can’t sacrifice relationships with Washington for the sake of ephemeral European Army. It means that there is a greater likelihood that Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will softly reject the idea. It is not necessary to expect strong opposition to Germany and France. But they surely will do their best to postpone decision making.

After all the initiative could become an “apple of discord” in the EU and split the organization in two sides making the organization even weaker than now.

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Global arms industry: US companies dominate the Top 100, Russian arms industry moves to second place

MD Staff

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Sales of arms and military services by the world’s largest arms-producing and military services companies—the SIPRI Top 100—totalled $398.2 billion in 2017, according to new international arms industry data released today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The total for the SIPRI Top 100 in 2017 is 2.5 per cent higher than in 2016 and represents an increase of 44 per cent since 2002 (the first year for which comparable data is available; figures exclude China). This is the third consecutive year of growth in Top 100 arms sales.

US companies increase their share of total Top 100 arms sales 

With 42 companies listed in 2017, companies based in the United States continued to dominate the Top 100 in 2017. Taken together, the arms sales of US companies grew by 2.0 per cent in 2017, to $226.6 billion, which accounted for 57 per cent of total Top 100 arms sales. Five US companies were listed in the top 10 in 2017. ‘US companies directly benefit from the US Department of Defense’s ongoing demand for weapons,’ says Aude Fleurant, Director of SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.

Lockheed Martin remained the world’s largest arms producer in 2017, with arms sales of $44.9 billion. ‘The gap between Lockheed Martin and Boeing—the two largest arms producers in the world—increased from $11 billion in 2016 to $18 billion in 2017,’ says Fleurant.

Russia becomes the second largest arms producer in the Top 100

The combined arms sales of Russian companies accounted for 9.5 per cent of the Top 100 total, making Russia the second largest arms producer in the Top 100 in 2017—a position that had been occupied by the United Kingdom since 2002. Taken together, the arms sales of the 10 Russian companies listed in the Top 100 increased by 8.5 per cent in 2017, to $37.7 billion. ‘Russian companies have experienced significant growth in their arms sales since 2011,’ says Siemon Wezeman, Senior Researcher with SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. ‘This is in line with Russia’s increased spending on arms procurement to modernize its armed forces.’

In 2017 a Russian company appeared in the top 10 for the first time since SIPRI started publishing its annual Top 100 list. ‘Almaz-Antey, which was already Russia’s largest arms-producing company, increased its arms sales by 17 per cent in 2017, to $8.6 billion,’ says Alexandra Kuimova, Research Assistant with SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.

Along with Almaz-Antey, three other Russian companies in the Top 100 increased their arms sales by more than 15 per cent: United Engine Corporation (25 per cent), High Precision Systems (22 per cent) and Tactical Missiles Corporation (19 per cent).

The UK remains the largest arms producer in Western Europe

The combined arms sales of the 24 companies in Western Europe listed in the Top 100 increased by 3.8 per cent in 2017, to $94.9 billion, which accounted for 23.8 per cent of the Top 100 total. The UK remained the largest arms producer in the region in 2017, with total arms sales of $35.7 billion and seven companies listed in the Top 100. ‘The combined arms sales of British companies were 2.3 per cent higher than in 2016,’ says Fleurant. ‘This was largely due to increases in the arms sales of BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and GKN.’

BAE Systems, which is ranked fourth in the Top 100, is the UK’s biggest arms producer. Its arms sales rose by 3.3 per cent in 2017, to $22.9 billion.

Other notable developments

  • The arms sales of Turkish companies rose by 24 per cent in 2017. ‘This significant increase reflects Turkey’s ambitions to develop its arms industry to fulfil its growing demand for weapons and become less dependent on foreign suppliers,’ says Pieter Wezeman, Senior Researcher with SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.
  • Taken together, the arms sales of the four Indian companies ranked in the Top 100 totalled $7.5 billion in 2017, representing a 1.9 per cent share of Top 100 arms sales.
  • Sales of the top 15 manufacturing companies listed in the Fortune Global 500 totalled $2311 billion in 2017. This is almost 10 times greater than the total arms sales of the top 15 arms producers ($231.6 billion) in 2017, and almost six times greater than the total combined arms sales of the Top 100 ($398.2 billion).
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