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The Future of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: Implications for India

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  • March 22, 2010 to March 23, 2010
    Only by Invitation

    The Quinquennial Review Conference (RevCon) of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is scheduled for May 2010. The RevCon comes at a time when the global nuclear environment has become complex and turbulent.

    The issues before the 2010 RevCon are both structural and substantive. The NPT, which, came into force in 1970 and extended indefinitely in 1995, is assumed to be cornerstone of nuclear non proliferation regime. Yet, the treaty remains controversial on many counts, the most notable being the differing obligations for the non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS) and the five recognized nuclear weapon states (NWS). The NWS have not kept their promise of addressing the issue of global nuclear disarmament under Article VI of the Treaty, and instead have postponed disarmament under the guise of various technical and procedural issues.

    Since the 2005 RevCon, there have been significant developments in non-proliferation regime which will influence the outcome of 2010 RevCon. To begin with, the change of leadership in the United States, with President Barrack Obama articulating his country’s commitment to universal nuclear disarmament, may be a promising sign towards reviving efforts to move towards complete elimination. Obama’s vision presents the notion that the success of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and the movement towards complete nuclear disarmament are strongly interlinked.

    The outstanding issues from 2005 also continue to remain contentious. This includes the crisis over Iran’s nuclear programme and the efforts to reduce states access to nuclear energy (Article IV), North Korea’s withdrawal from the treaty and the question of universalisation. The strengthening of the safeguards system by reaffirming obligations present in Article III of the NPT also forms a key issue wherein the issue of non-compliance is likely to be addressed. This issue is tied with the inalienable right of countries to access and develop nuclear energy, as well as fuel supply assurances for non- nuclear weapon states.

    The 2010 RevCon is the first after the landmark India-US nuclear deal, which was formulated outside the NPT framework. As one of the initiators of the treaty for nuclear non-proliferation four decades ago, India feels the treaty will not fulfill its mandate unless it initiates a process towards total elimination of nuclear weapons. With the Obama administration planning to revive the NPT and its adjunct mechanisms, there is now increasing pressure on India to accede to the NPT. On the one hand, a measure like UNSC Resolution 1887 asks all NPT non-signatories to join the treaty as non-nuclear weapon states, and on the other, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Secretary Hillary Clinton indicate full partnership for India in an amended or restructured NPT.

    There is a need to address the complexities surrounding the 2010 NPT RevCon and to explore India’s policy option vis-a-vis the NPT and the nonproliferation regime. The following broad areas could constitute the basis for an informed analysis and debate for the two-day conference on The Future of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty: Implications for India

    1. What are the dimensions of the crises within the NPT?
    2. Will the NPT survive the multiple crises?
    3. Can the NPT be reformed? What will be the shape of the NPT in the 21st century?
    4. Should India engage the NPT? If yes, what could be the terms and conditions for engagement?

    The format of themes and presentations at the conference could be as follows:

    First Day (Monday, March 22, 2010)

    0930-1030 Inaugural Session

    Session-I: Non-proliferation Regime and the NPT

    This session could examine the key and continuing role of the NPT in the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The presentations could examine the various dimensions of the crisis in the NPT and the potential shape of the treaty in the 21st century.

    Chairperson: Lt. Gen. V. R. Raghavan
    Professor Dilip Mohite
    Professor Amitabh Mattoo
    Dr G Balachandran
    Professor Swaran Singh
    Professor T P Singh


    Session-II: Nuclear Energy and the NPT

    The second session, formatted as a panel discussion, could primarily ascertain the issues and problems pertaining to nuclear energy (Article IV) within the NPT framework. The central theme of the session could be to assess the impediments to nuclear commerce caused by increasing non-proliferation obligations. Key issues for debate could include multilateral approaches to fuel-cycle processes, fuel supply assurances, international fuel banks as well as influx of proliferation-resistant recycling technologies, including curbs on transfer of Enrichment and Reprocessing (ENR) technologies.

    Chairperson: Dr. M. R. Srinivasan
    Special Address by Dr. Anil Kakodkar
    Amb. R Rajagopalan
    Dr. R Ramachandran
    Dr. R.R. Subrahmaniam

    Second Day (Tuesday, March 23, 2010)


    Session-III: Challenges before the NPT (Structural Issues)

    The primary structural challenges confronting the NPT system could be the broad theme of this session. The presentations could touch upon significant structural issues like the withdrawal clause (Article X), negative security assurances, strengthening the safeguard mechanism including the Additional Protocol, nuclear and WMD terrorism, etc.

    Chairperson: Shri. K. Santhanam
    Professor YK Tyagi
    Dr. Manpreet Sethi
    Professor Arvind Kumar
    Dr. Reshmi Kazi
    Dr. Priyanka Singh and Ms. Saba Joshi


    Session-IV: Challenges before the NPT (Country-cases)

    Continuing with the examination of structural issues, this session would primarily explore the challenges caused to the NPT from individual nations, both state-parties and non-signatories. The focus of discussions could be on non-compliance, violations as well as challenges imparted by non-state actors, which could affect not just the NPT but also the non-proliferation regime.
    Chairperson: Air Cmdre. Jasjit Singh
    Professor Chintamani Mahapatra
    Dr C. V. Sastry
    Dr. Teresa Joseph
    Shri Sam Rajiv
    Shri Sanjeev Srivastava and Ms Preeti Nalwa


    Session-V: The NPT and Nuclear Disarmament

    This panel discussion could explore the opportunities and challenges to nuclear disarmament through the NPT route. The focus of debate could be the capability and potential of the NPT system to move towards the goal of total elimination. The discussions could also examine the relevance of alternate disarmament routes like the Nuclear Weapons Convention and how India could contribute to this process.
    Chairperson: Shri K Subrahmanyam
    Amb. Arundhati Ghose
    Amb. Satish Chandra
    Air Cmdre. Jasjit Singh


    Session-VI: India and the NPT

    The concluding session could address the opportunities for and contours of India’s potential engagement with the NPT and the terms of such engagement. This also encompasses assessments of the possibilities of widespread reforms in the NPT structure, including prospective restructuring of accession provisions. The presentations could thus also explore the merits and prospects of India’s accession, and the options available for the same.
    Chairperson: Amb. Lalit Mansingh
    Professor Sumit Ganguly
    Professor Lawrence Prabhakar
    Dr. Rajiv Nayan
    Shri A. Vinod Kumar