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Yum-e-Takbir under the shadow of dying NPT

Pakistan Focus wishes a Joyous Yum-e-Takbir to the people of Pakistan.

Today as people of Pakistan celebrate Yum-e-Takbir, the day Pakistan carried out nuclear explosions on May 28, 1998, they have a fair degree of satisfaction that the national leadership’s decision of that moment was correct.

Pakistan Focus wishes Happy Yum-e-Takbir to the Nation
Pakistan Focus wishes Happy Yum-e-Takbir to the Nation

Had it not conducted the nuclear explosions, Pakistan could have never gotten a fair deal from the nuclear order endorsed by the NPT and other discriminatory regimes. After the nuclear explosions, Pakistan is certainly better placed for struggling to get its legitimate recognition in the world nuclear order; though it has a long way to go. If, because of any reasons,  the decision was to the contrary, Pakistan would have been reduced to a status non-entity in the global nuclear calculus.

For genuine reasons, the 2015 NPT review conference (April27 to May 22) failed  to agree on a joint statement. The NPT is a vintage regime of the 1960s reflecting the cold war era mindset. It was created to freeze the strategic status quo of that time. It recognizes only five countries as Nuclear Weapon States (NWS)  and the rest are clubbed together as Non Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS). The NPT continues to turn its face away from the emergence of additional NWS since coming its into effect; is adamant at calling them as NNWS and treat them accordingly.

In the past also, three such NPT review conferences ended without a final document:  in 1980, 1990 and 2005. This time, major difference of opinion was  on the establishment of the Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (MEWMDFZ); that was promised in the 2010 review conference; a conference  for this purpose was scheduled to be held in 2012; it never took place.

Egypt, alongside Middle East and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) countries insisted that  regional conference be convened by the UNSG to ban weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East. Israel remained concerned that a similar call may get included in the 2015 outcome document. Israel was fearful that  the US has been facing relentless pressure on the disarmament front and that there was possibility that like 2010, Washington could again give-in on the  issue.

The US Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, Rose Gottemoeller stated  that the US was “prepared to endorse consensus on all other parts of the draft Final Document,” and it is “unfortunately the language related to the convening of a regional conference to discuss issues relevant to the establishment of a Middle East zone free of all weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems [which] is incompatible with [the US’] long-standing policies.”

With regard to nuclear disarmament, though members eventually agreed on the final text , there were objections  by NNWS on the language. NWS reminded the NPT member states of the “significant” reduction in numbers of nuclear weapons that has been undertaken as a part of their “step-by-step” approach to nuclear disarmament; however, NNWS expressed their frustration over the speed of progress made by NWS in this regard, and stressed on the need to ban these weapons.

The  NWS criticized  some forward-looking commitments sought by NNWS for nuclear disarmament, which were “unacceptable” to all five NWS as it “does not provide a basis for consensus.” Instead, NWS proposed the use of words such as “non-use of nuclear weapons forever,” in the outcome document. NNWS, insisted that most, if not all, of the draft text submitted by them should be retained and called for further strengthening of the forward-looking commitments on nuclear disarmament.

Representative of South Africa said that it may be noted that treaty’s indefinite extension in 1995 was “based on the historic bargain that NWS will disarm, whilst others will not proliferate.” He said that  use of “forever” seemed to reflect that the NWS wished to retain nuclear weapons indefinitely. He reminded NWS of the commitment made in the Prague Speech and at the Global Zero campaign.

The end of the NPT review conference without an outcome document is likely to further increase the differences between NWS and NNWS over the approach to nuclear disarmament within the framework of the NPT. Over the years, these differences between NWS and the NNWS  have already widened.This has more to do with the lack of honesty of purpose  by the NPT recognized NWS.

Expressing his disappointment, the UNSG Ban Ki-Moon said that it was the difference on the future of nuclear disarmament, along with that on the MEWMDFZ, which caused the 2015 NPT review conference to end without a consensus document.

The NPT is poised to become increasingly irrelevant as it does not reflect the realities of contemporary nuclear order. NNWS feel that they did not get the fair deal as interpretations and implementation of NPT have largely remained victim of political exigencies rather than the noble objective of achieving universal nuclear disarmament.

As the NPT has failed to enjoy the confidence of NNWS so would a Fissile Material regime that does not take into account the existing stocks of fissile material and tires to freeze strategic status quo, like the NPT. Likewise, other discriminatory and country specific exemptions to India for its membership of four strategic trade regimes would make these regimes also look like the NPT, irrelevant, ineffective and ceremonial.


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