The International Dimension of National Security: Some Observations
B.M. Udgaonkar, HBCSE, TIFR
The author, an active participant of Pugwash over a period of 12 years, highlights the endeavour of this NGO to bring about a non-discriminatory international nuclear regime within a wider programme of global nuclear disarmament. The NWS try to maintain their hegemony through: treaties like the NPT and CTBT, technology control regimes like the London Club, MTCR and Wassenaar Regime; and international financial institutions like the IMF and the World Bank—resulting in neo-colonialism. Hard-hitting questions are asked and observations made on how genuine the NWS are in their 'commitment' to general and complete disarmament of nuclear weapons as provided for in Article VI of the NPT.
National security has many dimensions—internal and external. One cannot lose sight of the internal dimensions of national security: poverty; lack of education and health care for a very large fraction of the population; an unjust social order which is responsible for these, and for the growing disparities of income; large-scale unemployment; large-scale corruption; nexus between politicians and criminals; a soft State, etc.
Among the international dimensions one has international debts; dependence on so-called aid and on imported technology which make the country vulnerable to foreign pressures and sanctions; adverse terms of trade; ecological threats; depletion of non-renewable resources; forces of 'globalisation', 'liberalisation' and neo-colonialism; international terrorism; etc. These are being listed to illustrate the large number of factors that affect national security, but will be left out of the talk. The country has to deal with all of them suitably, with a judicious allocation of resources for each.
What is planned in the limited scope of this talk, is to describe the thinking about national security and the nuclear option evolved in the course of the last 10-12 years, through observation of the international nuclear situation, mainly in the course of the author's active participation in Pugwash. The interest throughout has been in a non-discriminatory international nuclear regime and a programme of global nuclear disarmament against a well-defined time frame that is not too long-drawn-out.
What is Pugwash? Pugwash is an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) that was awarded a well-deserved Nobel Peace Prize for 1995, sharing it with its President, Professor Rotblat. Since its inception in 1957, Pugwash has been bringing together scientists, social scientists, and other academics and distinguished people, covering a wide spectrum of ideological and geographical groupings, "to appraise the perils that have arisen as a result of the development of weapons of mass-destruction and to discuss a resolution", a call given by the Russell-Einstein Manifesto. The R.E. Manifesto, the credo of Pugwash, was issued in July 1955 and was signed by 11 distinguished scientists, most of them Nobelists. It drew attention to the predicament of mankind in very poetic language:
"We are speaking on this occasion, not as members of this or that nation, continent, or creed, but as human beings, members of the species of man, whose continued existence is in doubt....."
and called upon scientists to
"remember your humanity and forget the rest".
Pugwash has been influential in maintaining a continuous focus on global issues of peace and security raised by the development of weapons of mass destruction for over forty years. Pugwash's preoccupation during the Cold War years was, however, largely with arms control rather than disarmament, and correspondingly with non-proliferation rather than concrete steps towards elimination of nuclear weapons. Pugwash thinking has been largely North-centric (about two-thirds of the members of its Council have always been from the countries of the North, and a larger fraction of the participants at the Conferences and Workshops organised by it), but it has sometimes been amenable to persistent suggestions from other cultures, e.g. with regard to a Draft Code of Conduct for Technology Transfer, Guidelines for International Scientific Cooperation for Development, a time frame for the elimination of nuclear weapons etc. Pugwash started moving slowly and haltingly toward the promotion of the concept of a Nuclear Weapons Free World (NWFW), only after the end of the Cold War, around 1988. By 1993, it came out with its first monograph on a NWFW. It took some more years for Pugwash to realise the need to call for a well-defined time frame for achievement of the objective of elimination of nuclear weapons. This it did with its Quinquennial Statement of Goals, in 19971 when a period of not more than two decades was mentioned for the first time.
Pugwash and the NPT Reviews
I was elected to the Pugwash Council and Executive in 1987. My primary interest at Pugwash until 1988 was in issues of science and development. My serious interest in nuclear issues was triggered by a draft Pugwash statement for the 1990 NPT Review Conference, which was placed before the Council for approval, at the Council's pre-conference meetings at Moscow at the end of August 1988. It was surprising to find a Pugwash draft following the traditional approach of the Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) to NPT: It did not address itself to the discriminatory provisions of NPT, it was complacent with regard to the lack of progress on the commitment made by NWS under article VI of the NPT,2 and did not mention the objective of a NWFW, nor the logical inconsistency of the doctrine of nuclear deterrence, firmly held by the NWS, with a nuclear non-proliferation policy. It did not call for a time-bound programme for the elimination of nuclear weapons, and yet it called upon countries which had not joined NPT to do so, "thus enabling NPT to become a universal instrument of peace and security"! I raised strong objections to the tone and content of the draft, and suggested a revision. An attempt was made by some of the veteran members of the Council to have the draft approved without much change, on the ground that there was now no time to revise it substantially. It was clear that they were not worried about the discriminatory character of the NPT, and felt that the world was safe in the hands of the five NWS, and agreed with the NWS that it was desirable to keep others out of the nuclear club, without any commitment to a fading away of the club. Like many others in the South, I could not consider the world safe in the hands of the five NWS, knowing the behaviour of many of them (and their NATO allies) during the colonial era, and even more recently, as in Vietnam, or with respect to apartheid, etc.
After long discussions, where some members of the Council supported this stand, it was agreed that the Pugwash Executive would finalise the Statement at its meeting at the end of November in London, and it was left to me to make a fresh draft. A reasonably satisfactory statement, incorporating some of the concerns expressed as also the relevant recommendations was finalised and issued on November 30, 1988. This final statement included a strong assertion about the fundamental incompatibility of nuclear deterrence strategy with non-proliferation goals, in as much as there is no logical basis for denying the "right" to a nuclear deterrent to some States while according it to others. It also called for a comprehensive action plan, with a specific time-table, for stopping and reversing the nuclear arms-race,3 and for a formal commitment of all nuclear weapon States not to be the first to use nuclear weapons. These objectives continue to be elusive.
It was encouraging to note during these discussions that though Professor Rotblat's immediate reaction to my opposition to the original draft Statement was negative, he also remarked that his own personal thinking was similar to mine. He referred to a recent paper of his, "The Elimination of Nuclear Weapons: Is it Desirable? Is it Feasible?", which I had not yet seen; but added that these were not the views of Pugwash and that he was torn between his own views and those of Pugwash.
The discussions on the Statement for the NPT Review Conference had an impact on the customary Council Statement issued after the Dagomys Conference in September 1988, which included, inter alia.
i) NWFW among the goals of Pugwash (For the first time after being kept on the back-burner during the Cold War).
ii) An assertion that the policy of nuclear deterrence was in contradiction with the non-proliferation goals of Pugwash.
My proposal that one should include a time frame for attaining NWFW was rejected on the grounds that no one knew how to define a time frame—not withstanding that Gorbachev had written to Reagan in January 1986 proposing a broad time-table for the elimination of all nuclear weapons by the year 2000, and that Rajiv Gandhi had presented to the UN Special Session on Disarmament (UNSSOD-III) in May 1988, an Action Plan for elimination of all nuclear weapons by 2010 AD.
The ambivalence of Pugwash at this stage (September 1988) with regard to the goal of NWFW, could be seen from the fact that the reference to NWFW as a goal, and the above statement about deterrence were missing from the Executive Summary. When I raised a question about these omissions at the next meeting, the reply given to me was that one cannot include everything in an Executive Summary!
It was clear that there were several under-currents representing different views and interests at Pugwash. As Secretary General Martin Kaplan remarked in his valedictory address at the Dagomys Conference (1988), there was tension at Pugwash between what he called the "mainstream" or "realists" of the Establishments representing the policies of the government in power and in the academic circles, think tanks and industry, and the "borderland" or "idealists" whose ideas were often considered as radical. The central question at Pugwash was how to combine the realistic with the idealistic approach. Correspondingly, I often noticed that a certain amount of ambivalence existed at Pugwash, even among the veterans, which was worrisome.
The London meeting of the Pugwash Executive (November 1988) also adopted a Statement for the forthcoming Paris Conference on the 1925 Geneva Protocol Against the Use of Chemical and Bacteriological Weapons. The original draft placed before the Executive had a sentence: "the concept of 'realisation in kind", used as a justification to retain chemical weapons, has no logic in this age of overkill by other means"! When someone pointed out the implication of this sentence for those countries which did not have this capacity for overkill by other means, the sentence was quickly dropped. But the draft again revealed the North-centered thinking dominant at Pugwash.4
Soon thereafter Prof. Rotblat decided to set up a Pugwash Study Group on NWFW, and invited me to join it. NWFW started becoming the topic of one of the working groups at the annual conferences from 1990 onwards. From the next Pugwash Conference, I started attending the Working Group on nuclear issues.
I continued to press for a 'time-bound' approach to nuclear disarmament in another context: the NPT Review and Extension Conference, 1995. Having seen the reluctance of the NWS to start negotiations for implementing article VI of NPT for 25 years, the Working Groups on nuclear issues at the 1993 and 1994 Pugwash Conferences were not in favour of an unconditional and indefinite extension of the NPT beyond 1995. Most participants in these working groups favoured an extension for one or more fixed periods, linked to the completion of explicit disarmament measures within each period. In fact the Working Group made this recommendation unanimously in 1994, and observed that it was wholly convinced of the necessity of extending the Non-Proliferation Treaty beyond 1995, for one or more fixed periods, and opposed to an indefinite extension. The extension(s) must be of a finite duration to prevent the permanent categorisation of some nations as 'nuclear-weapons States' and the implicit legalisation and acceptance of nuclear weapons. One or more periods of extension should be envisaged, linked to the completion of explicit disarmament measures. Again the ambivalence of some of the Pugwash seniors with regard to these matters was revealed by the fact that while they kept quiet when this unanimous recommendation was being made after considerable deliberation by the Working Group, they opposed its inclusion in the Council's post-conference Statement. They claimed that the Working Group was not unanimous, that they had been opposed to it. When I asked why they had not spoken out at the Working Group, the reply was: "Oh, we knew that the Council will not accept this anyway"!
What very much worried me was that these were scientists high up in the hierarchy of Pugwash, which was supposed to be the conscience keeper of the scientific community.
Some More Remarks on NPT
Before the topic of NPT is put aside, reference will be made to a few relevant facts which should be kept in mind in the context of the pressures that continue to be applied on India for signing the NPT:
i) Talks have been going on between UK, France and the European Union (EU) about the possibility of the EU in some way acquiring nuclear weapons from UK and France, and controlling them, for common European defence.5 When I wrote to a high functionary of Pugwash expressing concern about such a proposal and expressing that it would not only be a backward step in the elimination of nuclear weapons, but also a serious breach of the NPT, he replied that he agreed that it would be a backward step, and that he was strongly against such a prospect and would fight it; but he did "not agree that a transfer of French or British nuclear weapons to a politically unified Europe of which France or the UK would be part could be construed as a breach of the NPT." "In fact," he added, "when the NPT was crafted, this possibility was explicitly envisioned and some countries joined the NPT on the explicit understanding that such a European clause be part of NPT,"6 (emphasis added).
ii) It has been widely recognised that in a nuclear war situation, the six co-user NATO States7 where tactical nuclear weapons of the USA (about 150-200 in number) are deployed, and whose pilots are being trained in the use of nuclear weapons, would become de facto nuclear weapons States and can for this reason—among others—be regarded as semi-nuclear-weapon States.8 As Van der Sijde has observed, "this is, in fact, not in accordance with the NPT,9 and this situation has—understandably—come under increasing attack by signatories of the NPT".10
iii) This situation may be considered along with a Statement made by the US Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 10, 1968, when NPT was up for ratification in the US Senate. Dean Rusk said that consultations with NATO allies had provided the understanding that the NPT "does not deal with arrangements for deployment of nuclear weapons within Allied territory, as these do not involve any transfer of nuclear weapons or control over them unless and until a decision were made to go to war at which time the treaty would not be controlling."11 (emphasis added). Taken with the creation and maintenance of a certain infrastructure for the use of nuclear weapons in the NATO countries, including training of their pilots, this would imply an automatic war-time termination of two important NPT obligations, namely Articles I and II of the treaty. The implication of this for the countries other than the 5 NWS and the NATO countries should be noted: While the 5 NWS and the NATO countries would have nuclear weapons, the other countries would not have any nuclear weapons to deter them, if they have been already bound by the NPT. Jan Prawitz had recently remarked that "the last part (of the Rusk Statement) is disturbing: the NPT would lapse in wartime. Sweden gave up its nuclear option for a variety of reasons, but one was that our European neighbours would do the same. If that were so only in peacetime but not in wartime when it would be most needed, the Swedish rationale would lose value."12
I referred to van der Sijde's observations and the statement of Dean Rusk at a recent Pugwash Conference (September 1999) and asked: if the NPT is considered as becoming inoperative and useless at critical junctures, allowing Allies to acquire control of nuclear weapons, why were countries like India and Pakistan being pressurised to join the NPT? A senior Pugwashite angrily replied (!) that the statements of former officers did not represent the policy of the US Government, and any further discussion was aborted!
iv) Matthias Kuntzel13 has expressed concern about "the German Plutonium bunker at Hanau, which contains at least 2,500 kilograms of plutonium." He points out that "there is no legitimate future for that plutonium stockpile, because there neither is nor will be any commercial plant in Germany that could use it", and recalls Victor Gilinsky's words: "A nation with a store of separated plutonium is a nation with a nuclear option". Japan's situation would be similar. And yet while there is so much concern expressed in Western countries about the possible nuclear weapon programmes of North Korea and Iraq, one does not hear much concern about the large stockpiles of plutonium in Germany and Japan!
v) A somewhat related question is: why is that it is wrong for an NPT member non-weapon country (e.g. Iraq or Iran) to acquire certain equipment from another (e.g. Germany), but it is not wrong for the latter to manufacture it? Is it just a question of trust, since most advanced equipment/technology would be of the dual-use kind? Then who decides who is trustworthy? In this context, one notes that the technology control regimes like the London Club, MTCR, Wassenaar arrangement are essentially controlled by the industrialised countries and put restrictions on exports to developing countries. Some of these restrictions go against Article IV of NPT.14
vi) We are aware, from repeated reports of US Intelligence Agencies, of the ongoing China-Pakistan collaboration in the area of nuclear weapons (and missiles), which contravenes Articles I and II of the NPT. The US has connived at it. The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Jesse Helms, has denounced President's Clinton's record of fudging on China's nuclear and missile proliferation activities.15 Zbigniew Brzezinksi, National Security Adviser to President Carter, in a recent article, has remarked: "the US has never followed a genuinely universal and non-discriminatory policy of halting proliferation. In fact, US policy all along has been that of selective and preferential proliferation "16
vii) The Nuclear Weapon States have shown utter disregard for the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that "there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects, under strict and effective international control"17 (going somewhat beyond the Article VI of NPT, in as much as there is no link with general and complete disarmament). They have continued to vote in the UN General Assembly against resolutions calling upon them to start negotiations on nuclear disarmament at CD.
viii) The NPT was never intended to be an indefinite license for a two-tier world of nuclear haves and have-nots, but embodied a bargain in which while on one side, the signatory have-nots agreed not to acquire weapons, on the other side, the NWS undertook to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control (Article VI of NPT). Their "solemn commitments turned out to be a sham."18 as Professor Rotblat has remarked. For 20 years after signing the NPT, they competed intensively in developing new nuclear weapon systems. The total number of weapons tests carried out by them was over 2000, and the nuclear weapons stockpile of the NWS actually increased from what it was at the time when NPT was signed (about 38,000) and reached a staggering figure of close to 70,000 in the mid-eighties. Nuclear disarmament is as distant as ever. Development of new nuclear weapons continues. Thirty years after NPT, and ten years after the end of the Cold War, some 32, 000 nuclear warheads still remain in the world,19 almost the same number as when NPT came into force. Even if the START process gets implemented, USA and Russia will still retain about 20,000 nuclear warheads in the year 2007.21 And yet the NWS pressurise States which have not signed the NPT to do so using a variety of sanctions—a sad example of "Do as I say, not as I do."
ix) This situation led Frank Blackaby, a veteran Pugwashite, and a former Director of the Swedish International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), to advocate what he called "a peasants' revolt"—a warning to be issued by a sufficient number of States party to the NPT, that given that the NWS are in violation of the NPT, they the non-nuclear-weapon States, will withdraw from the NPT within two years, unless NWS agree to start genuine negotiations designed to ultimately rid the world of nuclear weapons. He added: "It is time to think about rejecting a US-imposed treaty unless the treaty can be made to work as intended."20
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
I now come to some correspondence that I had with a very high functionary of Pugwash in February-March 1996, in the context of a letter that the four officers of Pugwash had decided to send to then Prime Minister of India, Sri P.V. Narasimha Rao, in relation to India's stand on CTBT at the CD. The letter expressed the fear that "the proposal by the Indian government that the CTBT should enter into force only after a commitment to the total elimination of nuclear weapons within ten years will result in the failure of complete CTBT". It described the CTBT as "an essential step on the way to the total elimination of nuclear weapons," and asserted that "failure to complete the CTBT this year would be a major set-back to the cause of nuclear disarmament". The Prime Minister of India was therefore requested to modify his approach to this issue.
A draft of this letter was sent to me, and I was asked to give my views on the draft, and if "I would be willing to give it publicity in India after it has been sent".
In my reply to this high official of Pugwash, I expressed strong opposition to the sending of such a letter. I pointed to the indefinite and unconditional extension of NPT in 1995, dividing the world permanently into 'nuclear weapons States' and 'nuclear non-weapons States', and implicitly legitimising and accepting nuclear weapons. In this situation, Pugwash must review the situation, and clarify its own ideas on the approach to a nuclear-weapon-free world. The CTBT could no longer be considered by itself. Further I was unable to see how one could claim that an agreement on CTBT as soon as possible was an essential step on the way to the total elimination of nuclear weapons, in the absence of an explicit time-bound commitment to such total elimination, embodied in the text of the CTBT. I pleaded that Pugwash should not, by the proposed letter, appear to be supporting a world order in which the world would be divided permanently into nuclear haves and have-nots—a nuclear apartheid and a technological apartheid accompanying it. I added that any letter to the Indian Prime Minister would be counter-productive, and Pugwash should not throw its new-found weight (arising from the Nobel Peace Prize it had just received) on the side of the NWS by writing such a letter. It would thereby lose its credibility in the Third World.
The four officers of Pugwash sent the letter to the Prime Minister of India notwithstanding my opposition (mid-February 1996).21 The correspondence between this high officer of Pugwash (P) and myself continued for a few weeks, in an effort to understand each others' position. It may be instructive to summarise its salient features.
In the course of the correspondence it became clear that the main differences between the two points of view related to the following:
1) I could not see how the CTBT was threatened by the action of the Indian government in linking it up with steps to eliminate all nuclear weapons. To me it appeared to be a mere assertion. If CTBT was an essential step on the way to the total elimination of all nuclear weapons, as claimed, then the two had to be explicitly linked; why should then there be a reluctance to do so?
2) Pugwash thought that the 10-year period mentioned by India was unrealistic. I pointed out that Prof. Rotblat had himself asserted, in his Nobel speech a few months earlier that "we have the technical means to create a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World in about a decade". Allowing for some 10-15 years for non-technical political aspects, could Pugwash support a period of 20 or 25 years? Could such a period be considered by the Government of India as a period endorsed by Pugwash? There was unwillingness on the part of Pugwash to agree to any such period as realistic.
3) Pugwash said that dates for completion of the process were not really meaningful. What was important for Prof. Rotblat was the date for starting negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC), an agreement by the nuclear powers to sit down round a table and discuss the terms of a NWC. He had therefore been advocating that the NWS should agree to put the elimination of nuclear weapons on the CD agenda. I reminded him that this call had so far fallen on ears that had chosen to be deaf. Could he and Pugwash therefore support the proposal made by NAM (G-21) in the CD (in mid-March) calling for a decision by the CD to establish an Ad Hoc Committee on Nuclear Disarmament, to commence negotiations on a phased programme of nuclear disarmament for the actual elimination of nuclear weapons within a specified framework of time? No specific time frame was mentioned in this proposal. I added that if Pugwash did not put its weight behind this NAM resolution, which was essentially the earlier Pugwash plea (1993-94) to give such a mandate to the CD, I was afraid that the credentials of Pugwash would be doubted in the Third World, as also the motivation of the Nuclear Weapons Powers in rushing through the CTBT in its present form. This suggestion also could not elicit a positive reply.
4) Pugwash would not make this a condition for signing the CTBT because they saw every such treaty as a step in the right direction and part of the overall programme. The sequence and linking of steps, was important for BMU, who was afraid that if the present opportunity was not seized and an unconditional CTBT was accepted, the NWS would not be in a hurry to arrive at a Treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons. On the other hand, the other States would have foregone their nuclear option forever.
Soon, the Canberra Commission, of which Prof. Rotblat was a member, came out with a very important guideline: "The elimination of nuclear weapons must be a global endeavour involving all States. The process followed must ensure that no State feels, at any stage, that further nuclear disarmament is a threat to its security. To this end nuclear weapon elimination should be conducted as a series of phased verified reductions that allow States to satisfy themselves, at each stage of the process, that further movement toward elimination can be made safely and securely.
5) Pugwash's advice to the Indian government (as expressed in the correspondence with BMU) was to demand a more definite statement in the Preamble of the CTBT that it is a first step in the programme for the elimination of nuclear weapons which NWS must pursue with vigour and urgency and that the progress will be monitored in frequent reviews of NPT. BMU felt that such a statement only in the preamble22 would be a step-down from article VI of NPT; further, experience with even the article VI of NPT, where no time frame was mentioned, was not reassuring. He also wondered how progress was to be monitored, as being suggested by Pugwash without a time frame against which it could be assessed. One had to learn from the fact that NPT reviews had been useless for monitoring the implementation of the NPT. NWFW had to descend from the plane of pious desires to the practical plane of a time-bound action plan.
6) At the base of these disagreements, there appeared to be a basic difference of perspective. In a Eurocentric framework, non-proliferation was considered a step towards elimination. The nuclear weapons States and their allies were not too uncomfortable with a world in which the Five kept their nuclear arsenals (essentially indefinitely), but were afraid of any additions to the Five. With the memories of the colonial past, it was difficult for a person from the Third World to accept such a nuclear regime.
7) Inability/unwillingness of Pugwash to put itself in the position of someone from the Third World and ask why his country should sign the CTBT in the proposed form and give up its nuclear option in the kind of world that exists. It was a world in which the recent 'Nuclear Posture Review' of the USA envisaged perpetuation of its nuclear arsenal into the indefinite future and in which some of the other nuclear weapons States too had emphasised the importance of nuclear weapons in their security thinking, by resuming the nuclear weapons tests soon after the extension of NPT in May 1995, thereby also violating the spirit of the assurance23 given at the time of this extension. Some of them had also recently argued before the International Court of Justice that they were within their rights to use nuclear weapons.
What distressed me during the correspondence was that Pugwash had no arguments to counter my persuasive arguments in the course of the correspondence, and yet insisted that it was wrong for India to take the stand it did. It was all the more distressing that my stand coincided with that of the NWS.
A tailpiece. India's approach to CTBT was discussed at length at the next Pugwash Conference (September 96, Lahti). After this discussion, when I asked some of the members of the Pugwash Executive if they now thought that the letter to the Indian Prime Minister should have been sent, two of them (including one of the signatories) replied in the negative! A nagging question is why could the four officers not wait till they had discussed the Indian stand with some of us, and arrived at a better understanding of it? Why were they in such a hurry to add to the pressures of the NWS?
There appeared to be an understanding of the Indian security concerns vis-à-vis CTBT, reflected in the Council Statement from Lahti (1996) which included, inter alia, the following: "We regard it as extremely unfortunate that the prospects for completing a CTBT were recently damaged by a Statement arising from the attachment, to the version of the CTBT prepared in the Conference on Disarmament, of a clause that would make the Treaty's Entry into Force conditional on its having gained the signatures of 44 specific countries. We believe the best way out of the current impasse would be if a means could be found to purge the Treaty of the problematic (and unprecedented) entry-into-force clause, so that a CTBT could enter into force without requiring the signature of specific countries beyond the five declared nuclear-weapon States". The position seems to have changed again, because the Council Statement from Rustenberg (September 1999) says: " all States required to ratify the CTBT should do so to ensure the treaty's entry into force at an early date."
It is not my intention to make a one-sided criticism of Pugwash. Pugwash has played a very important role during the Cold War period in bringing the scientists from the East and the West together and through them promoting an East-West understanding. It contributed to the evolution of the concepts of Common Security and Confidence Building Measures in the European context, and to the elaboration of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The publication of the Pugwash Monograph, A Nuclear-Weapon-Free-World: Desirable? Feasible,?24 can be seen as the start of a series of serious studies (e.g. several reports from the Henry L. Stimson Centre in the USA, the INESAP group in Germany, the International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms, the Committee on International Security and Arms Control (CISAC) of the US National Academy of Sciences, Canberra Commission) and Statements (e.g. by retired Generals Andrew Goodpaster, Lee Butler and 57 other flag officers from 17 centuries). It got a well-deserved Nobel Peace Prize in 1995, sharing it with Professor Rotblat, who has been its moving spirit for over four decades.
Pugwash has now to make similar efforts to promote the concept of Common Security in the North-South context, especially keeping in mind that neo-colonialism, in various forms, is trying to revive old hegemonies, and the gap between the rich and the poor countries is widening. It should at least guard against promotion of steps which are likely to widen the gap. For this, the Pugwashites, especially the office-bearers, would have to try consciously to place themselves in the position of persons from a Third World country like India to ask why that country outside the culture area of most of them should take steps that they are advocating for it, consistent with that country's perception of its security.
I joined Pugwash with great expectations. Over the years, I started seeing it as a window on the outside scientific world, in the matter of nuclear disarmament. It was an educative—but disillusioning experience. Even respected scientists and their respectable non-governmental organisations like Pugwash often exhibited blinkered views,25 largely arising from their being situated in the five Nuclear Weapons States or their Allies, where a large number of 'hidden persuaders' are active and that they (barring notable exceptions) did not make enough efforts to understand the security concerns of those in countries outside the charmed circle, or to promote an equitable nuclear order with emphasis on common security. If so what about the scientists outside Pugwash, and those in the governments of the NWS and their weapons establishments, and the diehards in government who take the ultimate decisions? One obviously has far to go before the peril of nuclear weapons gets eliminated from the world. This has obvious implications for the nuclear policy of a country like India.
The Deteriorating Global Security Environment and India's Disarmament Initiatives
One may now ask: Has India got legitimate grounds to worry about its nuclear security? And what efforts has India made to get rid of the nuclear peril?
Some aspects of the evolving nuclear security environment of India have already come up in the earlier discussion. More details can be found in an earlier article26 of the author, which also summarises India's efforts to get the nuclear weapons banned and eliminated internationally.27 India has been throughout the years at the forefront of the efforts for a nuclear-weapons-free world.28 Only a few of these are mentioned here. As early as 1948, in the context of the report of the newly created UN Atomic Energy Commission, India proposed limiting the use of atomic energy to peaceful purposes only, and the elimination of atomic weapons from national arsenals. In 1978, at the 33rd session of the UN General Assembly, India presented a Resolution declaring that (i) the Use of Nuclear Weapons will be a violation of the Charter of the United Nations and a crime against humanity, and (ii) the use of nuclear weapons should therefore be prohibited pending nuclear disarmament. The resolution was adopted but could not lead to any legally binding commitment. In 1988, at the UN Special Session on Disarmament (UNSSOD-III), India made an important proposal in the form of a three stage Action Plan for ushering in a Nuclear Weapons Free and Non-Violent World Order, wherein the target date of elimination of all nuclear weapons was set at 2010 A.D. The proposals were all ignored by the NWS. During the CTBT negotiations, India tried to get the CTBT enmeshed into the matrix of a time-bound framework for elimination of nuclear weapons, as also ensure that the CTBT became truly comprehensive by inclusion of subcritical tests. The attempt failed because of the opposition of the NWS. More recently in June-July 1998, India and Egypt tried to get the use of nuclear weapons included as a war crime within the mandate of the proposed International Criminal Court, but this was strongly opposed by the NWS, who threatened to boycott a court which had such a mandate. The proposal therefore got rejected at the meeting which created the ICC.29 Surprisingly, Japan voted against the Egyptian-Indian proposal, in spite of its professed horror against the use of nuclear weapons arising from the Hiroshima-Nagasaki experience. This attitude of NWS and their allies is not calculated to inspire confidence in their intentions when they try to pressurise other countries to join NPT, CTBT, FMCT.
The Enigma of Japan
Japan is the only country to have experienced the horrors of nuclear weapons. It is said therefore to abhor nuclear weapons. It has a historic policy of not possessing, not producing and not permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons on its territories. Yet Japan has made compromises in order to ensure its own security under the nuclear umbrella of USA. It has provided important bases to USA at Okinawa, and earlier at Ichi Jima and Iwo Jima,30 and provides other facilities under the renewed defence treaty with USA. It seems to allow US ships and airplanes to visit Japanese ports and airports without demanding a declaration that they do not carry nuclear weapons and thus transgresses one of the three basic principles of Japan's nuclear policy, namely, not to permit the introduction of nuclear weapons on Japan's territory.
Is Japan's commitment as a nation ravaged by nuclear weapons only to non-proliferation or to the elimination of nuclear weapons? If the latter, why did Japan support indefinite and unconditional extension of NPT, which legitimised nuclear weapons in the hands of nuclear-weapons powers? Why has Japan been voting with the NWS and NATO countries (or abstaining) rather than with countries like India, on various resolutions brought before the UN General Assembly, relating to the elimination of nuclear weapons? Why did Japan vote against the Egypt-India proposal to include the use of nuclear weapons within the mandate of the recently established International Criminal Court?
Serious doubts have therefore have been raised about Japan's non-nuclear status and its commitment to the elimination of nuclear weapons, despite its sanctimonious attitude in the matter of nuclear weapons as seen in its imposition of sanctions on India in the wake of Pokhran-II.
And yet some advocate that India should follow Japan's example in the matter of nuclear weapons. Such a suggestion was made, for example, by an attendee at a recent lecture of Professor Rotblat in Mumbai (November 1999), and Professor Rotblat expressed agreement with this person. I had to remind both about the above aspects of Japan's nuclear policy and actions, and to emphasise that for these reasons, Japan could not be a model for India.
Question of International Norms
It has often been argued that non-possession of nuclear weapons (except by the five NWS) has become, or is becoming an international norm that should be followed by other countries. One has to ask what is meant by an international norm. In the context of nuclear weapons, is the norm defined by the numerous resolutions at the UN General Assembly calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons, or declaring use of nuclear weapons a crime against humanity, which were supported by a large majority but always opposed by the NWS and their allies? Or is it defined by treaties like NPT, CTBT which were achieved by arm-twisting and promises which were never meant to be kept? Is it defined by the unanimous Advisory opinion given by the International Court of Justice in 1996? And by the Malaysian Resolution at the UN General Assembly, following this Advisory opinion, calling upon all States to commence multilateral negotiations without delay, leading to an early conclusion of a Nuclear Weapons Convention, which received an overwhelming support at the General Assembly?
"International norms" or "world community" are phrases that are increasingly used to provide global legitimacy to actions at preserving the interests and the dominant position of the USA and its allies.31 Globalisation, Liberalisation, Interdependence are, for example, phrases used to describe the West's attempts to integrate the economies of the non-western societies (former colonies) into a global economic system dominated by it.32 IMF, World Bank, and International Financial Institutions are often used as tools to impose on other nations, economic and other policies the West considers appropriate. One has only to remember the actions of these institutions in supporting US sanctions against India following Pokhran-II—sanctions against a country that had not violated any international treaty or agreement. Pugwash has not expressed itself against such sanctions.
Treaties like NPT, CTBT, FMCT, etc
We have a situation in which the five nuclear weapons states retain their huge nuclear arsenals and huge stocks of fissile materials, and even assert their right to use nuclear weapons when they feel that their vital interests are at stake, and yet want all other States to join the NPT and CTBT and proposed Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). The motivation of the five NWS in pursuing this policy cannot but be questioned. These treaties put restrictions on the States other than the five NWS, which are not balanced by commitments on the part of the five NWS to eliminate their nuclear arsenals in a well-defined time frame. Their acceptance would imply acceptance of a nuclear apartheid, in which the security of some States (including the most powerful one by far) is to be accepted as depending on nuclear weapons identified, while other States would be denied such security. Why should a country forgo its nuclear options now, not knowing how the world is going to develop, all the more so since various recent developments amount to abandonment by the NWS of the goal of nuclear disarmament?
It is not sufficiently realised that nuclear apartheid implies technological apartheid—embargoes on the acquisition of various technologies, equipments, instruments, components, materials…India has been subjected to such embargoes for over two decades, and has been subjected to more sanctions after Pokhran-II, including the throwing out of some scientists from US establishments and the declaration of some "entities' for banning scientific exchanges, commercial transactions, etc.
Denial of various technologies, even those related to nuclear reactors goes against Article IV of NPT.33
The discriminatory character of NPT is well recognised. It is necessary to emphasise that CTBT or proposed FMCT cannot be considered non-discriminatory so long as they are not embedded in a treaty banning the production, stockpiling, dissemination and use of nuclear weapons.
The security implications of these treaties, for the States other than the five NWS must not be lost sight of. One is led to wonder if the five NWS and their allies (which among themselves include all the colonial powers of not so long ago) are at all serious about the elimination of nuclear weapons. It is difficult not to think that their only interest in these treaties is to have one more handle to control the non-nuclear-weapons States, getting them to sign certain treaties which they themselves have no intention of abiding by (e.g. NPT), and inspecting them very intrusively in the light of the treaty obligations, so that the five NWS may not have even remote fear of nuclear retaliation from these countries.
It is pertinent to ask as to whose interests are served by such treaties, whether they really contribute to the objective of a NWFW, (within a reasonable period, to be explicitly specified, with an action programme), therefore enhancing global security and confidence building, or they serve the hegemonistic interests of a few powers.
We live in a grossly unequal world, and the inequalities will not disappear without persistent efforts over a long period. In the meantime one must guard against measures which tend to perpetuate this inequality. Even Pugwash does not seem to have appreciated the importance of this.
The Ethical Dimension
In discussions of India's exercise of the nuclear option, one frequently reads mention of the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, which it is claimed, India has given up.34
It is hazardous to transfer great personalities like Nehru and Gandhi to a period several decades after their death, and guess what they would have done if they were alive today. However, two things appear to me to be central to their thought and action. Firstly, both Gandhi and Nehru were against racialism and colonialism and against dominance/hegemony. In a letter to Bertrand Russell in December 1962, in the context of a proposal from the latter for the resolution of the Sino-Indian crisis, Nehru observed that one lesson he had learnt from Gandhiji was that one must not surrender or submit to what one considers evil.35 Secondly, while they advocated peace, they were not mere pacifists, but said on several occasions that durable peace demanded a just and equitable international order. Therefore, it seems to me, that today they would have fought against neo-colonialism in all its forms and would not have submitted to the attempts of the NWS to maintain their hegemony, through treaties like the NPT, CTBT; technology control regimes like the London Club, MTCR, Wassenaar regime, etc. whose effect is to deny various advanced technologies to the Third World; and the control of international financial institutions including the IMF and the World Bank.
Nehru was not in favour of unilateral renunciation of the nuclear bomb by India. Bertrand Goldsmith has observed: "In the 1950s Pandit Nehru had been a leading crusader for stopping nuclear tests and for nuclear disarmament; but in 1955, when…Homi Bhabha…suggested to him a solemn unilateral renunciation of nuclear weapons, the Prime Minister had asked him to speak about it again when India would be ready to fabricate a bomb".36
When discussing the moral responsibility of scientists one is face to face with the ancient problem of values in the world of fact, in a world which is not governed by altruistic considerations, and of prioritising values when the need arises. Einstein's name has often been invoked in discussions of the ethical dimension. Einstein is, however, a good example of how an outstanding personality did not hold on to his values in an absolutist or fundamentalist fashion, and was not averse to prioritising them. Up to the advent of Nazi power in Germany, Einstein was, as he called himself, 'a militant pacifist'. He was opposed to military preparedness and compulsory military service. The seizure of power by the Nazis in the heart of Europe, caused Einstein to abandon his support of war resistance and he began to advocate rearmament in the West—a radical departure from his previous views. "…is one justified in advising a Frenchman or a Belgian to refuse military service in the face of German rearmament?" he asked. Also, "…so long as Germany persists in rearming…the nations of Western Europe depend, unfortunately, on military defence. Indeed, I will go so far as to assert that if they are prudent, they will not wait unarmed, to be attacked…they must be adequately prepared."37 Later in 1939, he wrote the famous letter to President Roosevelt, which resulted in the making of the first nuclear weapons. He does not seem to have expressed regrets about his role. Einstein had the moral strength to reverse himself in view of compelling circumstances. However, he never failed to distinguish between strategy and principle. As a matter of principle, he never wavered in his profound abhorrence of war, nor in his conviction that only the creation of a supranational organisation would safeguard the peace of the world. NWFW is still beyond the horizons of the NWS. The NWS are not even willing to allow Nuclear Weapons Convention to be put on the agenda of the CD. Even Pugwashites (barring notable exceptions) seem to have conditioned themselves to the acceptance of nuclear weapons in the hands of the NWS for an indefinite future. Peace movements like CND, which looked very powerful at one time, have become moribund.38 Unilateral military interventions, or interventions supported by one or more allies, but bypassing the UN, have been increasing, and Pugwash has not yet taken a stand against them.39 It is in this situation that a country like India has to define its nuclear policy.
A self-righteous pacifist approach or unilateral action does not take us anywhere. It leaves us where we are—with tens of thousands of nuclear weapons continuing indefinitely in the hands of the NWS and their Allies, which include all the colonial powers of not so long ago.
An individual may face death bravely for his absolute principles. Can a country, or those who have the responsibility for its security take a moral stand, on behalf of its people, which bind the future generations to an inequitable world order? That is where the nuclear option comes. There is no contradiction between working persistently and patiently towards a NWFW and developing the nuclear option in the interim, in the world as it is.
It must be emphasised that, while maintaining a minimal deterrent, India must persevere more vigorously than ever in her efforts to get the scourge of nuclear weapons eliminated globally.
1. See, e.g. Proc 47th Pugwash Conference, Ed J. Rotblat (Singapore: World Scientific 1999), p. 49.
2. Article VI states: "…to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control".
3. This was done grudgingly, as seen from the fact that a specific time frame was strongly opposed by Pugwash in early 1996, in the context of India's stand during the CTBT negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) (discussed later.) Even at the time of the 1997 Conference, when the goals for the quinquennium 1997-2002 were enunciated, there was a last minute attempt by very senior council members to drop the reference to a time frame of at most two decades on the ground that a 20 year frame is out of place in a document that refers to the next five years! They had to be reminded that a twenty year time frame had implications for the programme for the next five years. At the same conference, another veteran Pugwashite referred to the 20 year time frame as my time frame. This person had to be reminded that it was now the Pugwash time frame. It remains to be seen whether Pugwash pushes for it.
4. Incidentally, it took four years for USA and China to ratify the CWC, which was opened for signature in 1993. Huge stocks of chemical weapons still remain undestroyed in USA and Russia.
5. See, for example, Mark Hibbs, "Tomorrow, A Euro-bomb?" Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, vol. 52, no. 1, p. 16, 1996. See also, Miguel Marin-Bosch "Europe's Nuclear Family" Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, vol. 54, no. 1, p. 35, 1998.
6. Private correspondence in 1996-97. I have been unable to find any such explicit mention in the statements appended to the NPT by countries; however, there are some carefully worded statements appended to the NPT by some European countries, in particular, Germany and Italy. See, Status of Multilateral Arms Regulation and Disarmament Agreements, Fifth Edition (New York: United Nations, 1996).
7. Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Greece and Turkey.
8. See, for example, Bart van der Sijde and Karel Koster, "A Road to Nuclear Disarmament", paper presented to the 49th Pugwash Conference, Rustenberg, September 7-13, 1999.
9. Under Article I of NPT, the NWS have undertaken not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or control over such weapons, directly or indirectly; under Article II, each NNWS, party to the treaty, has undertaken not to receive such transfer.
10. See, also, Rebecca Johnson, "Troubled Treaties: Is the NPT Tottering?" Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, vol. 55, no. 2, April 16, 1999.
11. Quoted and Commented on by Jan Prawit Pravitz, "Nuclear Weapons and the Pugwash Agenda: A Commentary", Pugwash Newsletter, April-June, 2000; see also, Jan Prawitz, From Nuclear Option to Non-Nuclear Promotion: The Swedish Case, a 1995, Report.
13. Matthias Kuntzel, "Germany's other Plutonium Option," Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, vol. 52, no. 4, July-Aug 1996, p. 3.
14. Article IV asserts that nothing in the Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination. It also incorporates an undertaking on the part of the Parties to the Treaty to facilitate the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technical information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. (emphasis added)
15. Editorial, The Times of India, Mumbai, July 1, 1998.
16. Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Times of India, Mumbai, May 16, 1998.
17. The UN Disarmament Yearbook, vol. 21: 1996, p. 67.
18. J. Rotblat, Pugwash Newsletter, November 1998, p. 50.
19. "Global Nuclear Stockpiles", 1945-2000, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, vol. 56, March-April 2000.
20. Frank Blackaby, "Time for a 'Peasants' Revolt', "Guest Opinion, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, vol. 53, November-December 1997.
21. B.M. Udgaonkar, Pugwash Newsletter, April-July 1996, p. 296.
22. In any case, Annette Schaper has commented on the fact that during the CTBT negotiations, NWS did not grant any single concession to India, such as acceptance of India's proposal on preamble language and that India was called upon to sign or even ratify 'a treaty which had been entirely dictated to it and reflected none of its demands' see Annette Schaper, Proc 47the Pugwash Conference, 197, Ed. Joseph Rotblat, (Singapore: World Scientific 1999) p. 268.
23. "To move with determination towards the full realisation and effective implementation of the provisions of the Treaty". NPT Review and Extension Conference, May 1995.
24. Joseph Rotblat, Jack Steinberger, Bhalchandra Udgaonkar (Eds) A Nuclear-Weapon-Free World: Desirable? Feasible? (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1993)
25. The examples cited by me do not seem to be exceptional. A very recent example was noticed at a Pugwash Workshop on "A Nuclear-Weapons-Free World: Steps Along the Way" (London, November 6-8, 1998), where I had presented my reasons for not considering the proposed Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty as a step along the way to a NWFW. Instead of contradicting any of the arguments, a senior Pugwashite observed that one should still have the FMCT because 'The optimum should not be allowed to become an enemy of the good'. I could not help asking: 'Good for whom?' See B.M. Udgaonkar, 'Fissile Material Cut-off," Strategic Analysis, XXIII (9), 1587, 1999.
26. B.M. Udgaonkar, "India's Nuclear Capability, her Security Concerns, and the Recent Tests', Current Science, 76 (2), 254, 1999. See also, Jasjit Singh (Ed) Nuclear India, (New Delhi: Knowledge World, 1998), esp articles by Jasjit Singh and K. Subrahmanyam).
27. See also, Disarmament: India's Initiatives, (New Delhi: External Publicity Division, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, 1988).
28. Professor Rotblat has noted this in his article following Pokhran-II. See n. 18.
29. The Times of India, Mumbai, July 19, 1998.
30. In a recent article Robert Norris and others have raised the question as to how much Japan knew about the stationing of nuclear weapons by USA at some of these bases. See Robert S. Norris, William M. Arkin and William Burr, 'How Much did Japan Know?" Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, vol. 56, no. 1, 2000, p.11.
31. This view is shared by some Western thinkers like Samuel Huntington, (see 34). Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilisations (Viking, 1996) p. 184.
32. These phrases were not needed in the colonial era.
33. n. 14.
34. See, e.g., J. Rotblat, n. 18, see also, Khairallah Assar, Pugwash Newsletter, May 1997, p. 64.
35. Letter from Jawaharlal Nehru to Bertrand Russell December 14, 1962, The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell: 1994-1969 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1969) p. 216.
36. Bertrand Goldshmidt, "Indian Nuclear Problems", Physics News, September 1983, p. 69
37. See, for example, Otto Nathan and Heinz Norden, (Eds) Einstein on Peace (New York: Schocken Books, 1968) pp. 230-31.
38. See, e.g. Bert Lortie, "Where's it gone? The Peace Movement at the Turn of the Century', Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, vol. 56, no. 1, 2000, p. 11, March-April 2000, p. 52.
39. B.M. Udgaonkar, Pugwash Newsletter, 36 (1), 105, 1999.