Remembering “Atoms for Peace” speech? What was the point of peace if billions remained in poverty? President Eisenhower believed that arm’s reduction wouldn’t be sufficient and float an idea of using nuclear energy as a way to redeem humankind.
Eisenhower’s vision was at once nationalist and internationalist, altruistic and self-interested.
“The United States (U.S) pledges to devote its entire heart and mind,” he said, “to find the way by which the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life.”
To begin with, proliferation issues in South Asia started with the Indian move where it converted nuclear technology from peaceful purposes to weaponisation. India used plutonium from a donated Canadian reactor to make its first bomb in 1974. The nuclear explosion of 1974 itself is a clear depiction of converting nuclear technology for the devastation of humankind. India diverted nuclear fuel from Canadian reactors, supplied for peaceful and civilian use, to conduct a nuclear weapons test.
Since then, India has been working towards a robust nuclear weapons programme. Indian actions from the beginning had weaken the statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Ahead of this India used Atoms for Peace agreements in the 1960s to further its nuclear weapons programme creating more complicacies in the region. It undermined the non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) with its early 70’s peaceful explosions of bomb. Nuclear tests altogether changed subtle strategic equation in strong favor of India.
Nuclear proliferation in South Asia is focused on the covert development of nuclear weapons. Nuclear proliferation by India divulges that how a state can obtain necessary fissile material, technology and knowhow for the sake of nuclear program leading towards developing nuclear weapons.
Skipping the pages of the history, the major developments occurred in 21st century, where, India receives special treatment by U.S for instance, the Indo-U.S nuclear deal that enables them to produce fifty nuclear arsenals annually. So, it is a significant development from New Delhi’s perspective and it altered the South Asian strategic asymmetry in Indian’s favor. Undoubtedly, it undermined Pakistan’s security and necessitated requisite strategic response from Islamabad. The nuclear programme of India is moving forward rapidly, without any hindrance keeping in mind the increasing number of nuclear and missile deals from great powers. Pakistan’s problem is not that India has nuclear warheads— even if India has just one functional warhead, it is one too many. This means that Pakistan reserves all the right to take suitable measures for its security.
Despite dramatization of Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities, it is quite clear that South Asia remained safe from any major conflict due to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Being outside NPT, India has a flourishing and large nuclear power programme. It is relying on plutonium for developing nuclear weapons – which was the same as in its Pokhran-I 1974 test and in the Pokhran-II tests, conducted in May 1998. With increased amount of producing fissile material such as construction of 1250 MW fast-breeder reactor it continues to produce fissile materials for weapons while operating a plutonium production reactor, Dhruva, and a uranium enrichment facility that are not subject to IAEA safeguards.
Increasing its nuclear stockpile by as many as 28-35 weapons annually, India is currently strengthening its capability to enrich uranium where numerous deals have also been made with other countries. According to the SIPRI Yearbook 2014, India has also begun construction of a second industrial scale enrichment plant at Karnataka, which will not be under IAEA safeguards. It is critical time for other states to take serious note of reasons directing qualitative as well as quantitative increase in nuclear stockpiles by India in order to counter its vertical proliferation and ‘Normalizing’ South Asia.
India has claimed that it has a spotless non-proliferation record and that it should be included in the nuclear mainstream countries and also made part of the NSG. Whereas, U.S is leaving no stone unturned in helping India to become member of the NSG. On the other hand, these steps have been weakening the NPT as Indian access to international market to acquire fissile material enabled it to divert domestically produced material for WMDs production without any practical hurdle. Hence this all is endangering the future of non-proliferation mechanism based on the pillars of NPT.
India has been consistently relying on its nuclear weapons as a means of warding off potential attacks from a powerful neighbor. This incremental policy of New Delhi has increased the chance of nuclear war in South Asia. Thus, the threat of a potentially more aggressive Indian nuclear struggle from the peaceful nuclear explosions in 1974 has put the region in destabilizing condition and their continuous efforts to build more weapons has volatile the region’s already rocky situation in South Asia.