The Treaty for Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), concluded in 1970, is considered to be the cornerstone of the Global Non-Proliferation Regime (NNPR); with a total of 189 member states. According to the stipulations of the treaty, a Review conference is convened every five years to review progress on the treaty since 1975. After its indefinite extension in 1995, the treaty has carried out two successful Review Conferences (RevCons) in the years 2000 and 2010.
In the last RevCon in 2010, a 64-point plan was adopted by the states parties that led to the success of the conference in coming up with a consensus. The final document outlined follow-on actions alongside recommendations in areas of nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, peaceful uses of nuclear energy and implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East. The non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS) associated great importance to the issue of the convening of Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (NWFZ) Conference in the Middle East, in determining the future success of the NPT. The next review conference, supposed to be convened from 27 April to 22 May 2015 at UN Headquarters in New York, would mark twentieth anniversary of the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995 RevCon.
However, the fulfillment of the disarmament obligations of nuclear weapon states (NWS) as well as progress on convening a NWFZ conference in the Middle East serve as challenges to the upcoming conference. Moreover, the current geo-political crisis over Russian annexation of Crimea has exposed the underlying rifts between Russia, the U.S., and its Western allies. A resurgent Russia would not bode well for the future of bilateral nuclear arms reduction efforts vis-a-vis the United States. Resultantly; one can also notice trends in the U.S., unlike President Obama’s vision of a world free of nuclear weapons, moving away from reduced salience of nuclear weapons in its security policy to that of an enhanced stature of these weapons. The U.S. plan of modernising its nuclear arsenal over a period of three decades costing an awful 1.1 trillion is a case in point.
Not much needs to be said about the Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear cooperation and access to dual-use nuclear technologies and how it undermines the global norms for the nuclear non-proliferation regime. In a recent turn of events, the U.S. withdrew from its commitment of tracking nuclear fuel supplied to India to be used for civilian purposes only. This move would not only undermine the non-proliferation regime by obliging an outlier state to proliferate without any ensuing check and balance, but would also seriously damage the regional deterrence by accentuating Pakistan’s concerns on vertical proliferation by India. Finally, the negotiations on Iran have to show some optimism for a prospective agreement over limiting its enrichment program, to set the stage for the 2015 RevCon.