Colonel (Dr.) Anil Athale .

Co-ordinator INPAD.


The greatest myth of twentieth century is commitment of nations to Nuclear Disarmament. Another equally dearly held premise is that technological monopoly can be sustained over long term and that some nations, currently dominant in it, will continue to be so, in perpetuity. Recorded human history shows that once a weapon is invented it cannot be un-invented and that toady’s leaders in technology were (once upon not too distant past,) backward savages eking out living from a difficult nature. If mankind is to successfully tackle the nuclear menace, these myths have to be discarded in toto. For the sake of being politically correct, however, there is no harm in using them as a useful rhetoric as ‘opiate of masses’.




Ever since the first use of nuclear weapons in August 1945, the ‘haves’ have tried to deny it to the ‘have- nots’. Secrecy and later technology denial were the means used, essentially targeting the supply side of spread of nuclear weapons. The NPT, Nuclear Suppliers Group ( successor to the London Club), Missile Tech. Control Regime and Wassenaar Arrangement as well as bilateral agreements, are pillars of this policy.


But spread of wmd technologies  has been due to demand side pressures, clashing geo-political interest  ( good proliferation vs bad proliferation of the Cold War era), geo- economics and lure of markets  that lead to a direct quid pro quo or indirect spread of dual use technologies. None of these factors are addressed in the denial regimes mentioned above.


The passing away of the Duo Polar world encourages not only unilateralism on part of the sole hyper power but also  has given flexibility to lesser powers to use force as the sole hyper power suffers from imperial over-stretch. The passing away of the ‘Global Nuclear Balance of Terror’ while reducing the danger of Armageddon, has also made lesser powers less secure as the option of invoking the countervailing power is no longer available. Thus an unintended consequence of end of Cold War and demise of Soviet Union has been that many countries were forced to re-think their earlier abstinence, India being one of the prime examples.       


In addition, information revolution and economic globalisation puts severe pressure on the viability of denial regimes. Technology diffusion and spread are the natural consequences of globalisation.  




According to the thesis by Alvin Toffler, the simultaneously existing agrarian, industrial and informational civilizations have different ways of production, survival needs and working speeds . Consequently there will be differences in outlook towards  the concept of nationalism , sovereignty , national interests . Equilibrium , stability and peace are unlikely and instead events like changes in military balance, surge in religious fanaticism or sudden economic changes can cause  breakdown of the system, should some of these issues converge in time and space. Ronald Higgins in his work `The Seventh Enemy' written in the 70s, has identified these as nuclear proliferation, ecocide, famines leading to mega deaths in the developing countries under condition of population explosion, while the developed world continues its progress in technology and feels confident of finding a technological `fix' for human problems. It has escaped notice that technology is fast outgrowing human control fuelled by the cycle of ever increasing consumption artificially generated through marketing in order to make mega profits for trans-national corporations who have jumped national barriers.

This frenzied race for consumerism has generated the threats of green house effect & depletion of earth's resources, thus jeopardizing the existence of future generations. Thought of future generations and their welfare was the furthest from the thinking of the Western Pundits in their mindless pursuit of nuclear weapons or unbridled consumerism. Such a global system is anything but rational in its behaviour and its future course difficult to predict. However some major trends can be identified and are listed below to facilitate the understanding of the environment.



-Communication and information revolution making the world a global village.

-Economic multipolarity.

-Continued emphasis on technological drive in the advanced countries to sustain their growth but denial of the same to developing world to maintain the income differentials.

-Continued over exploitation of earth's resources to support the Western economic model of growth and wasteful lifestyle oblivious of its effect on ecosphere.

-Growing realization of the need to balance budgets as also expenditure on defence, development and domestic consumption. At the same time huge budget deficits and various scams show the dangers of consumerism.


-Total autonomy of an individual's `desires', bereft of social responsibility as recently admitted by Ms Margaret Thatcher. There will no longer be any society, only a collection of individuals.

-Emerging global lifestyle in which the developing world adopts Western mores and consumption patterns giving rise to crass materialism and also loss of self esteem in the poorer parts of world.

-Population explosion in the developing countries, amongst the illiterate and the poorest marking the survival of demagoguery and deceitful leadership there. There may arise support to cultural narrow nationalism and religious fundamentalism as a way out of this morass.

-Declining respect for state authorities due to their failure to solve problems and rise of sub nationalism and ethnic fervour as people search for a narrower territorial focus .



-Ideology has weakened in favour of economics, concept of absolute national sovereignty is being diluted and individual is having a greater say in the political process as well as demanding equitable standard of living.

-Leadership structures are being weakened due to their inability to comprehend the fast developing impact of various issues at various levels. Narrow specializations are becoming mandatory while the incompetent leaders strive to remain in power at the cost of the governed.

-For want of holistic view bureaucracies are getting politicised while politics is being criminalised and nation states are living from crisis to crisis.

-While influence of the military in decision making is on the wane, it is being increasingly called upon to restore order due to greater recourse to proxy wars , low intensity conflicts and terrorism that is supported across the borders.

-Militarisation of space, the ultimate high ground, has led to the development of costly military machine that can only be afforded by the rich thus further widening the gap between the rich and the poor. 

-As most technologies are of dual use, it has become difficult to prevent horizontal proliferation with even terrorist groups able to develop sophisticated weapons in their backyards.



Analysis of Nuclear Threats.


The nuclear threat is not homogenous but can be dissected into different components. This is the essential first step as each threat needs different instrumentality.


Emergence of Nuclear Multipolarity.

This was often described as the n+1 problem. The thinking grew out of the Cuban Missile Crisis October 1962, when President John F. Kennedy of the US wondered aloud that a US President a decade later may well have to deal with multiplicity of actors in crisis situation. NPT, that froze the number of ‘recognised’ nuclear weapon states to 5 was sought to be the answer. But the NPT failed as today there are 8 nuclear weapon states. Recognition or otherwise by the NPT makes no difference to the existing reality. The number may soon increase to 10, should North Korea and Iran join the nuclear club.

Nuclear Weapons in the hands of Non state actors.

Rebel movements who control large tracts of territory, groups with international network and/ criminal gangs may well obtain nuclear weapons by theft or be give the material to make them by states who want to fight another state by proxy.

Diffusion of nuclear Power Reactors and Reprocessing in the future.

Environmental threat due to green house gases would force the world to increase the use of nuclear power. The problem of spent fuel thus created would necessitate re-processing and re-use of Plutonium thus obtained.


Path towards Solution.




It is dangerous to treat nuclear weapons as useless. If possible, a Noble peace prize should have been given to the first atomic bomb that has kept peace for the last 50 years. The US will never give up its nuclear weapons as long as it perceives a threat to its security. The US will also never give a no fist use assurance. Two points are important in this- one is the US psyche and second the US believes, if threatened, in being ruthless. If a person doesn't understand this then he has not understood the US, the world's most law abiding yet ruthless nation.


NPT is a selective arms control measure that does not address many issues. But these issues need to be clearly defined by India. Whole world agrees that the earth should be protected from the weapons that threaten all. Control is possible through world government, but all agree that it is not likely to take shape too soon, unless there is a dramatic change like an extra terrestrial threat et al. Therefore planning must be based on realistic possibilities. What can be done then ?


a) Nuclear weapon powers should drastically reduce their weapons to show that they are serious.

b) Universal regime of fissile material accountability-neither freeze nor cap but transparency.

c)transparency in missile production .

d)same about aircraft.

e)in a ten years time frame if the above takes place then the threshold powers should declare their assets and join the club.





 D Year




      a) Begin discussions on reducing NWs and CTBT.

      b) Threshold powers may attend but need not participate.



            a) Commence discussion on control. Keynote transparency and          protection of commercial interests.

      b) All producers to attend.


      a) Commence discussions on Missile manufacture control          treaty (MMC) keynote transparency and protection of                   commercial interest.

     b)  All missile producers to attend.




     a) Commence discussion on NPT in light of progress made in          areas I to III.

     b) All non nuclear nations to attend.

     c) Threshold powers to discuss desirability of declaring                  status and joining the club.




    a) Discuss the need to control sale and manufacture of

       i) Fighter bomber aircraft.

       ii) Armed helicopters.

       iii) Heavy Guns and tanks

       iv) Mines

     b) Same parameters as fissile and missile control. Keynote          transparency.




     a) UN to be kept informed.

     b) Discuss role composition and powers of the supervisory          body.





Year D plus 5



Agreement on phased reduction of NWs, finalization of CTBT.




All nations accept open policy on manufacture, storage, sale and inspection.




Satisfied with the progress on items above all nations sign NPT as non weapon states. Threshold powers with independent capability given option to join as weapon states.




All nations accept open policy on sale and manufacture on the lines of current norms on ICBM testing.




UN approval and setting up of organization to carry out the tasks. All nations have to cumpulsorily forced to accept.



Year D Plus 10.


Reduction of NWs, FMC and MMC treaties implemented


All nations accept mandatory sanctions against treaty violations including use of force if necessary. A re organized UN creates a strategic force under joint command to implement the treaties and also to defend earth against extra terrestrial threat if any.


Key questions

1 Who will organize these deliberations ?

2 Who will bear the cost ?

3 How will the implementation cost be borne ? ( A world Tax ?).


The time frame may well appear unduly optimistic. It can well be stretched to even two decades. The proposal also offers flexibility as the process can linger on at any one phase without detriment to any one. The two most important points are, it forces the nuclear haves to make a commitment and pay a price and secondly it attempts to tackle the whole gamut of use of force and not merely nuclear weapons. Piecemeal approach is unlikely to work as the arms race will merely shift into other areas.