Connect with us

Defense

A new chapter in the Nuclear Non Proliferation Regime?

Published

on

16th July 1945, a flash of blinding light lit up the skies of New Mexico as if the radiance of a thousand suns were burst into the sky at once accompanied by an explosive force that had been hitherto unheard of, mankind had created the means to rival the celestial powers which form the core of the cosmos itself.  Mankind had harnessed the power of the atom; the world would never be same.

The US monopoly on Nuclear weapons was short-lived with the Soviet Union soon conducting its first nuclear test on 29 August 1949. This ushered in the era of Bipolarity and solidified the Cold War as a reality. As the Cold War raged on the number of Nuclear Weapons skyrocketed and the number of states possessing nuclear weapons slowly increased. To limit this spread of nuclear weapons to other countries a series of treaties were drafted which were aimed at preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons these treaties collectively are known as the Nuclear Non Proliferation Regime (NPR). At the core of the NPR stand the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty better known as the NPT. After decades of stagnation a new treaty came to light one which advocates for the complete ban on nuclear weapons and their use called the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons with many believing that it would open a new chapter in the NPR.

To understand if the TPNW truly marks a new chapter in the Nonproliferation regime one must first analyze the basic tenets of the treaty and what makes its different from the existing NPR infrastructure. Open for signature in 2017 and entered into force on 22nd January 2021 the TPNW builds upon the humanitarian challenge of the use of nuclear weapons and their threat to humanity. The TPNW arose from popular sentiment against the inaction of the Nuclear Weapon States to carry out disarmament under article 6 of the NPT. It has 86 signatories and 54 parties, the text of the treaty talks about the indiscriminate and total disarmament of all nuclear weapons and explosive devises, article 2 of the treaty says that all state parties to the treaty to declare within 30 days if they had ever owned or possessed control over nuclear weapons. And if a state does possess nuclear weapons after 7 July 2021 it shall work with the competent international authority to pursue disarmament. States that possess nuclear energy will work with the IAEA to negotiate within 180 days verification and safety mechanisms to prevent the diversion of nuclear fuel whose implementation shall be entered into force after 18 months of the treaty being entered into force. While the NPT makes a distinction between Nuclear Weapon States and Non-Nuclear Weapon states giving legitimacy to the arsenals of select countries while barring others from making nuclear weapons the TPNW instead removes this distinction of NWS and NNWS and calls for the total disarmament of nuclear weapons regardless of their status according to the  NPT.

Looking at the TPNW one observes that no nuclear weapon state has actually signed the treaty and the US and its allies even went as far as to denounce the treaty. The absence of nuclear weapon states including the Permanent 5 members of the United Nations Security Council (P-5) poses problems for the treaty, as a treaty on the prohibition on nuclear weapons without the involvement of the states who actually possess these weapons simply makes no logical sense. Another grave flaw of the treaty is that it lacks a clear plan towards disarmament and instead it uses vague terminologies. There also exist no such mechanisms to punish state parties who have violated the treaty nor does there exists any incentives for countries to sign the treaty as opposed to the incentive of nuclear energy and cooperation under the NPT.

Another critique on the TPNW is that it fails to recognize the central nature and the significance that nuclear weapons have on the strategic stability and the force postures of countries. An argument which has been central to realist thought. It is due to the concept of deterrence that the world has witnessed the decrease in the number of all out wars between major powers. Kenneth Waltz one of the pioneers of neo-realism highlighted this point and claimed that in the post war world nuclear weapons acted as a second force of peace and stability as they have made the cost of war immensely high. In regions such as South Asia nuclear weapons proved instrumental in preventing the outbreak of all-out war between India and Pakistan (although limited and sub conventional level war remains). Taking away nuclear weapons without providing any alternative to these concepts of deterrence and balance of terror would most likely result in chaos as it is only through providing better alternatives that these existing concepts are made obsolete hence making the need for nuclear weapons obsolete.

That being said one must not overlook the normative significance that this treaty entails. While major flaws such as lack of clarity and the absence of nuclear weapon state parties hinder any solid progress towards disarmament the treaty is the first of its kind as it removes the previous distinctions of the NPT between the Nuclear Weapon States and the Non-Nuclear Weapon states and calls for total disarmament it is aimed at developing a stigma around nuclear weapons. This push for prohibition on nuclear weapons was spearheaded by International NGO’s and other civil society groups under the banner of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) this is in contrast to the earlier development on arms control and disarmament whose main proponent were and was facilitated by states. The treaty makes more sense if one looks at it through the lens of constructivism whose focus on the role of normative and ideational non material structures on the behavior of actors suggest that the TPNW has given rise to a new norm in the International system one which outright bans the use and the possession of nuclear weapons. However this seems to be in its initial stages

Taking a look at the overall situation one finds that this norm happens to be in the second stage of the norm life cycle, during this stage norm leaders (States) push for a more hands on approach with states convincing other states adopt the same norm, as opposed to the first stage which involves the emergence of a norm. A look at the TPNW shows that this exact phenomena is happening as the proponents of total disarmament seek to convince other states of adopting the same stance. This is solidified in article 12 of the TPNW which says that each state party shall encourage states which are not a party to the treaty to sign, ratify, accept, approve or accede to the Treaty. This would then lead the final stage in which the norm goes through the process of Internalizationin which it gains a taken for granted status, and becomes a given fact of everyday life. Just as the creation or the use of biological weapons is universally seen as a crime and a taboo, use and the possession of nuclear weapons would be regarded as a similar taboo. The main obstacle to this being the norm acceptance by the P-5 and the states which actually possess nuclear weapons. As without their collaboration it is near impossible that the conditions for internalization would be met.

In conclusion while this treaty is not expected to yield solid results in the form disarmament as it suffers from the flaws highlighted above but it should not be seen only in this regard. The treaty is a part of a broader dynamic of the Norm Life Cycle and the normative significance that it carries and its role in stigmatizing nuclear weapons is a step towards the internalization of the norm of complete disarmament and opening a new chapter in the Nuclear Non Proliferation Regime, albeit a small step.

Continue Reading
Comments

Defense

Test of Agni Prime Missile and India’s Counterforce Temptations

Published

on

South Asia is widely regarded as one of the most hostile regions of the world primarily because of the troubled relations between the two nuclear arch-rivals India and Pakistan. The complex security dynamics have compelled both the countries to maintain nuclear deterrence vis-à-vis each other. India is pursuing an extensive and all-encompassing military modernization at the strategic and operational level. In this regard, India has been involved in the development of advanced missiles as delivery systems and improvement in the existing delivery systems as well. Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent and delivery systems are solely aimed at India; however, India aspires to fight a ‘two-front war’ against Pakistan and China. Therefore, the size and capability of its nuclear deterrent and delivery systems are aimed at countering both threats. However, most of the recent missile delivery systems made by India appear to be more Pakistan-centric. One recent example in this regard is the recently tested nuclear-capable cannisterized ballistic missile Agni Prime, which is insinuated as Pakistan-centric. These developments would likely further provoke an action-reaction spiral and would increase the pace of conflict in South Asia, which ultimately could result in the intensification of the missile arms race.

Just quite recently, on 28th June 2021, India has successfully tested an advanced variant of its Agni missile series, namely Agni Prime or Agni (P). The missile has a range between 1000-2000 kilometers. Agni Prime is a new missile in the Agni missiles series, with improved accuracy and less weight than Agni 1, 2, and 3 missiles. It has been said that the Agni-P weighs 50 % less than the Agni-3 missile. As per the various media reports, this missile would take the place of Agni 1 and 2 and Prithvi missiles, however officially no such information is available. This new missile and whole Agni series is developed as part of the missile modernization program under the Defence Research and Development Organization’s (DRDO) integrated guided missile development program. 

Agni-P is a short missile with less weight and ballistic trajectory, the missile has a rocket-propelled, self-guided strategic weapons system capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads. Moreover, the missile is cannisterized with the ability to be launched from road and rail. The DRDO claimed that the test flight of the missile was monitored by the telemetry radar stations and its trajectory met all the objectives of the mission successfully with high level of accuracy. Agni-P missile because of its range of 1000 to 2000 km is considered a weapon against Pakistan because within this range it cannot target China. Although, India already has different missiles in its inventory with the same range as the newly developed and tested Agni-P missile, so the question arises what this missile would achieve. 

Since the last few years, it has been deliberated within the international security discourse that India’s force posture is actually more geared towards counterforce options rather than counter-value options. Although, India’s nuclear doctrine after its operationalization in 2003, claims  “massive retaliation” and “nfu” but in reality with developing cannisterized weapons like Agni-P, Agni 5, and testing of hypersonic demonstrative vehicles, India actually is building its capability of “counterforce targeting” or “splendid first strike”. This reflects that India’s nuclear doctrine is just a façade and has no real implication on India’s force modernization.

These developments by India where it is rapidly developing offensive technologies put the regional deterrence equation under stress by increasing ambiguity. In a region like South Asia, where both nuclear rivals are neighbors and distance between both capitals are few thousand kilometers and missile launch from one side would take only a few minutes in reaching its target, ambiguity would increase the fog of war and put other actors, in this case, Pakistan in “use it or lose it” situation, as its nuclear deterrent would be under threat.

In such a situation, where Pakistan maintains that nuclear weapons are its weapons of last resort and to counter threats emerging from India, its nuclear deterrence has to hold the burden of covering all spectrums of threat. It might be left with no choice but to go for the development of a new kind of missile delivery system, probably the cannisterized missile systems as an appropriate response option. However, as Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence is based on principle of “CMD” which allow Pakistan to seek deterrence in a cost-effective manner and also by not indulging in an arms race. Therefore, other than the threat of action-reaction dynamic developments like Agni P by India, would make weapons more accurate and lethal, subsequently conflict would be faster, ambiguous, and with less time to think. In such a scenario, as chances of miscalculation increase, the escalation dynamics would become more complex; thus, further undermining the deterrence stability in South Asia.

India’s counter-force temptations and development of offensive weapons are affecting the deterrence equilibrium in South Asia. The deterrence equation is not getting affected just because India is going ahead with the development of offensive technologies but because of its continuous attempts of negating the presence of mutual vulnerability between both countries. Acknowledgement of existence of mutual vulnerability would strengthen the deterrence equation in the region and help both countries to move forward from the action-reaction spiral and arms race. The notions such as the development of offensive or counterforce technology or exploiting the levels below the nuclear threshold to fight a war would not be fruitful in presence of nuclear weapons. As nuclear weapons are weapons to avert the war and not to fight the war.

Continue Reading

Defense

Unmanned Aircraft Systems & The Annihilistic Future

Published

on

The unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly known as drones were introduced as a useful means to military, commercial, civilian and humanitarian activities but yet it ends up in news for none of its original purposes. Drones have rather resulted as a means of mass destruction.

The recent attacks on the technical area of the Jammu Air Force Station highlights the same. This was a first-of-its-kind terror attack on IAF station rather the Indian defence forces that shook the National Investigation Agency to National Security Guard. The initial probe into the attacks directs to involvement of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist group based out of Pakistan, in the drone attacks as the aerial distance from the point of attack was just 14 kilometers. The attacks took place via an Electric multi-rotor type drone between 11:30 P.M to 1:30 A.M on 27th June, 2021.

The above incident clearly points out the security issues that lie ahead of India in face to the asymmetrical warfare as a result of drones. The Indian Government after looking at the misuse of drones during the first wave of the pandemic realised that its drone regulations were nowhere sufficient and accountable and hence passed the Unmmaned Aircraft Rules, 2021. These rules imposed stricter requirement for obtaining license and authorisations by remote pilots, operators, manufacturers or importers, training organisations and R&D organisations, thereby placing a significantly high burden on the applicants but at the same time they also permit UAS operations beyond visual sight of line and allowing student remote pilots to operate UAS.

But these rules still don’t have any control on the deadly use of drones because multi-rotor drones are very cheap and readily available and what makes them lethal is their ability to be easily detected, additionally the night time makes it even worse. Their small size grants them weak radar, thermal, and aural signatures, albeit varying based on the materials used in their construction.

The pertinent issue to be understood here is that these rules can never ensure safety and security as they cannot control the purpose for which these drones maybe used. There are certain factors that are to be accounted to actually be receptive to such imminent and dangerous threats. Firstly, significantly increasing urban encroachments  in areas around defence establishments, particularly air bases, has proved to be fatal. If frontline bases like Jammu or be it any other base when surrounded by unbuffered civilization poses two pronged problems, first it acts as high chances of being a vantage point for possible attackers and second, it also hampering the defence mechanism to come to an action. It is not limited to drone concerns but there have been cases of increased bird activity that has once resulted in engine failure of an IAF Jaguar and has caused similar problems all along.

Another important factor is that of intelligence. The Anti-drone systems will take their time to be in place and it is still a distant call to ascertain how effective will these systems be, so in the time being it is pertinent to focus on intelligence which may include sales and transfers of commercial drone, or the hardware that is required to build a basic multi-rotor drone. These are not something extraordinary because it is even in news when Pakistani drones were being used to supply weapons and ammunition to terror networks on Indian soil. Also, the past experience in handling ISIS have shown the weightage of intelligence over defensive nets.

Intelligence is no doubt a crucial factor in anticipation of drone attacks but what cannot be done away with is the defense mechanism. Efficient counter-drone technology is the need of the hour. DRDO has developed such technology that could provide the armed forces with the capability to swiftly detect, intercept and destroy small drones that pose a security threat. It is claimed that solution consists of a radar system that offers 360-degree coverage with detection of micro drones when they are 4km away, electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors for detection of micro drones up to 2 km and a radio frequency (RF) detector to detect RF communication up to 3 km and is equipped for both soft kills as well as hard kills.

Hence, the above analysis brings out the need of the application of an international instrument because the technology used in such drone attacks is at an evolving stage and the natural barriers still have an upper hand over be it either flying a pre-programmed path aided by satellite navigation and inertial measurement units (IMUs), or hand controlled to the point of release or impact, both methods have significant limitations as satellite and IMU navigation is prone to errors even when it comes to moderate flight ranges while manual control is subject to the human limitations such as line of sight, visibility as well as technical limitations such as distance estimation of the target, and weak radio links. An example of this could be the Turkish-made Kargu-2 model of killer drone can allegedly autonomously track and kill specific targets on the basis of facial recognition and Artificial Intelligence (AI). As the AI becomes better and better, these drone attacks become more and more terminal.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic is an eye opener for India as well as the world as none of the countries considered the possibility of bio-defenses or made a heavy investment in it even when there was awareness about lethal effects of genetic engineering. Hence, it should be the priority of the government to invest heavily in research and make the development of defensive technologies a national priority else the result of artificially intelligent killer drones would be much more catastrophic.

Continue Reading

Defense

Russia’s National Security Strategy: A Manifesto for a New Era

Published

on

The central feature of the new strategy is its focus on Russia itself. The Russian leadership has every reason right now to turn homeward to address the glaring weaknesses, imbalances, and inequalities of the country’s internal situation.

Russia’s new, forty-four-page National Security Strategy signed by President Vladimir Putin on July 2 is a remarkable document. It is much more than an update of the previous paper, adopted in 2015. Back then, relations with the West had already sharply deteriorated as a result of the Ukraine crisis, but were still considered salvageable; much of the liberal phraseology inherited from the 1990s was still in use; and the world still looked more or less unified. The current version of arguably the most important Kremlin strategy statement—covering not only national security issues, but a whole range of others, from the economy to the environment, and values to defense—is a manifesto for a different era: one defined by the increasingly intense confrontation with the United States and its allies; a return to traditional Russian values; and the critical importance for Russia’s future of such issues as technology and climate.

The strategy lays out a view of a world undergoing transformation and turmoil. The hegemony of the West, it concludes, is on the way out, but that is leading to more conflicts, and more serious ones at that. This combination of historical optimism (the imminent end of Western hegemony) and deep concern (as it is losing, the West will fight back with even more ferocity) is vaguely reminiscent of Stalin’s famous dictum of the sharpening of the class struggle along the road to socialism. Economically, Russia faces unfair competition in the form of various restrictions designed to damage it and hold it back; in terms of security, the use of force is a growing threat; in the realm of ethics, Russia’s traditional values and historical legacy are under attack; in domestic politics, Russia has to deal with foreign machinations aimed at provoking long-term instability in the country. This external environment fraught with mounting threats and insecurities is regarded as an epoch, rather than an episode.

Against this sobering background, the central feature of the strategy is its focus on Russia itself: its demographics, its political stability and sovereignty, national accord and harmony, economic development on the basis of new technologies, protection of the environment and adaptation to climate change, and—last but not least—the nation’s spiritual and moral climate. This inward focus is informed by history. Exactly thirty years ago, the Soviet Union collapsed just as its military power was at its peak, and not as a result of a foreign invasion. Having recently regained the country’s great power status and successfully reformed and rearmed its military, the Russian leadership has every reason now to turn homeward to address the glaring weaknesses, imbalances, and inequalities of the country’s internal situation.

The paper outlines a lengthy series of measures for dealing with a host of domestic issues, from rising poverty and continued critical dependence on imported technology to the advent of green energy and the loss of the Soviet-era technological and educational edge. This certainly makes sense. Indeed, the recent Kremlin discovery of climate change as a top-tier issue is a hopeful sign that Russia is overcoming its former denial of the problem, along with inordinately exuberant expectations of the promise of global warming for a predominantly cold country. After all, the Kremlin’s earlier embrace of digitalization has given a major push to the spread of digital services across Russia.

The strategy does not ignore the moral and ethical aspects of national security. It provides a list of traditional Russian values and discusses them at length. It sees these values as being under attack through Westernization, which threatens to rob the Russians of their cultural sovereignty, and through attempts to vilify Russia by rewriting history. In sum, the paper marks an important milestone in Russia’s official abandonment of the liberal phraseology of the 1990s and its replacement with a moral code rooted in the country’s own traditions. Yet here, the strategy misses a key point at the root of Russia’s many economic and social problems: the widespread absence of any values, other than purely materialistic ones, among much of the country’s ruling elite. The paper mentions in passing the need to root out corruption, but the real issue is bigger by an order of magnitude. As each of President Putin’s annual phone-in sessions with the Russian people demonstrates—including the most recent one on June 30—Russia is governed by a class of people who are, for the most part, self-serving, and do not care at all for ordinary people or the country, instead focusing single-mindedly on making themselves rich on the job. Money—or rather Big Money—has become that group’s top value, and the most corrosive element in today’s Russia. Therein lies perhaps the biggest vulnerability of modern Russia.

On foreign policy, the strategy is fairly elliptic, but it gives a hint of what the upcoming Foreign Policy Concept might include. The United States and some of its NATO allies are now officially branded unfriendly states. Relations with the West are de-prioritized and those countries ranked last in terms of closeness, behind former Soviet countries; the strategic partners China and India; non-Western institutions such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS, and the Russia-India-China trio; and other Asian, Latin American, and African countries. In addition to U.S. military deployments and its system of alliances, U.S.-based internet giants with their virtual monopoly in the information sphere, and the U.S. dollar that dominates global finances are also seen as instruments of containing Russia.

Overall, the 2021 Russian National Security Strategy seeks to adapt the country to a still interconnected world of fragmentation and sharpening divisions, in which the main battle lines are drawn not only—and not even mostly—between countries, but within them. Victories will be won and defeats suffered largely on domestic turf. Accordingly, it is the Home Front that presents the greatest challenges, and it is there that the main thrust of government policies must be directed.

From our partner RIAC

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Green Planet55 mins ago

Climate change could spark floods in world’s largest desert lake

For years it appeared as though Lake Turkana, which sits in an arid part of northern Kenya, was drying up....

Reports3 hours ago

Sweden: Invest in skills and the digital economy to bolster the recovery from COVID-19

Sweden’s economy is on the road to recovery from the shock of the COVID-19 crisis, yet risks remain. Moving ahead...

Intelligence5 hours ago

The New World Order: The conspiracy theory and the power of the Internet

“The Illuminati, a mysterious international organisation made up of the world’s top political and social elites, controls the workings of...

Environment7 hours ago

Western Indian Ocean region has declared 550,000 square kilometers as protected

The Western Indian Ocean region has declared 143* marine and coastal areas as protected – an area covering 553,163 square...

Green Planet11 hours ago

Six things you can do to bring back mangroves

Don’t be fooled by their modest appearance: mangroves are important players in some of the greatest challenges facing the world...

Development13 hours ago

ADB Calls for Just, Equitable Transition Toward Net Zero in Asia and Pacific

Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Masatsugu Asakawa today called for countries in Asia and the Pacific to take bold action...

Green Planet15 hours ago

Oil, acid, plastic: Inside the shipping disaster gripping Sri Lanka

It’s visible in satellite images from just off Sri Lanka’s coast: a thin grey film that snakes three kilometres out...

Trending