The Comprehensive Nuclear – Test – Ban Treaty (CTBT), is essentially a legal mandate designed to globally forbid nuclear tests. Envisioned by the US President John F Kennedy, the international ban on nuclear tests finally became a reality in 1996 when the CTBT was internationally declared open. However, as per the notions of the UN-Director General at Palais Des Nations in Geneva, Vladimir Petrovsky (Russia), the concept of nuclear test ban program was first conceived by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1954. The main functions of the CTBT are:
• Preventing and strongly discouraging research and development of nuclear weapon potentiality for states that do not have the background or capacity to enhance their nuclear weapons developments
• Block permanently the states that have authorized considerable nuclear weapon arsenals from affirming elevated nuclear weapon designs that has not seen successful tests
• To bridle the arms race, that seems to go on unmitigated. This especially applies for the Asian countries that have developed a propensity to stockpile their nuclear arsenals
The net result of the CTBT is this that, countries engaged in serious pursuit of nuclear armament programs or in the process of amplifying the capacities of their existing nuclear weapons will either have to swallow the fact that the advanced nuclear weapons will perform as per predictions or conduct actual tests to reaffirm the capacities of these weapons. Undoubtedly, if latter is the case, after the introduction of CTBT, the country will have to face the consequences in the form of severe global retaliation which may even result in a global denouncement.
India’s stance regarding the signing of CTBT:
India, one of the eight countries, (five countries with declared nuclear powers and three ‘threshold’ countries) had firmly denied being a signatory of the CTBT. Even the nuclear power officials’ effort of ratification of the treaty before it is actually implemented was also turned down by India. As per the statement of India’s erstwhile Foreign Minister, I K Gujral, “The treaty as it has been drafted is a charade. If we want to rid the world of these weapons, then it is the five powers which have the weapons that have to do something”. The logic provided by India was simple. India declared that it would not be a part of CTBT and all the states with declared nuclear power should first undertake a program of complete disarmament of their nuclear arsenal in the coming decade. The logic is irrefutable, as, if the international nuclear power officials want a world without a threat of nuclear weapons then a complete disarmament of the all the existing nuclear weapons is the only solution. The CTBT is ‘just a charade’ as mentioned by the Indian then Foreign Minister, I K Gujral.
The negotiations and the participation procedure ended on 28th of June 2013. India neither participated nor approved the CTBT. However, the formal closure of the treaty is not going to close the opportunity of being a part of it forever (as per diplomatic sources). The treaty will obviously be opened for a willing country agreeing to the terms of CTBT. The Partial Test Ban Treaty signed by India prohibits our country from testing nuclear weapons in the air. Since then, all such tests have been carried out mostly under the desert adhering to the norms of ‘peaceful nuclear explosion’. The US State Department is under the apprehension that India may conduct another nuclear test sometimes this year. As far as the nuclear arsenal of India is concerned, our country follows the ingenious method of keeping the several components of a nuclear weapon separately, which can be assembled at a short notice in case of the necessity of a nuclear strike.
Any weapon needs to be tested from time to time and nuclear weapons are no exceptions either. The fission and fusion materials also need to be checked periodically to ensure that they are functional. However, India has almost eradicated the need for actual nuclear tests by enhancing its computer simulation program to a great extent. Former Indian Army officer and a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, Pravin Sawhney stated that India could build ‘boosted- fission’ devices with a test. These devices are particularly nuclear fission bombs with a yield up to 500 kilotons similar to the first British H-Bombs. He further mentioned in the institute’s journal that, “The Indian Government has invested heavily in super computing and related software.” In spite of such advanced computer simulation techniques, there is no replacement of the actual testing of a nuclear device, although the computer simulation has considerably marginalized the need.
CTBT-O World Monitoring Stations for Unauthorized Nuclear Tests:
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBT-O) has been set up with a budget of 1 billion dollars sponsored by 183 countries with its headquarters in Vienna. The CTBT-O has a vast network covering almost the entire world. The extremely high technology listening and monitoring devices of CTBT-O can detect a nuclear explosion , whether it is conducted in air, underground or even under sea in a matter of minutes and pinpoint accurately the location of the explosion. CTBT-O’s International Monitoring System (IMS) is unique and the precise detection can be said to be 100% perfect. This is the sole motive of setting up CTBT-O, to keep the world free from nuclear test hazards. As per the statement of Dr. Lassina Zerbo, Director, International Data Center (IDC) and Executive-Secretary-elect, CTBT-O, “If only one thousandth of the noble gas (emerging from an atomic explosion) is vented, we will see it”. Of the proposed 337 stations planned all over the world (including the Arctic and the Antarctica), 87% are fully functional streaming huge quantities of real time data to the CTBT-O headquarters in Vienna. One of CTBT-O’s recent achievement was when 96 stations detected the small nuclear weapons tests carried out by North Korea on February 12th, 2013. 71 stations spread over the globe are dedicated to the listening of sounds made on the earth and look specifically for nuclear detonations and about 12 of these stations specifically look for underwater nuclear detonations. US, Germany and UK are some of the countries that have ensured funding of this vast network. Since India did not accept the CTBT, nuclear activities in India are monitored from CTBT-O stations located in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
According to the estimates of the CTBT-O scientists, the net explosive power of the nuclear tests carried out all over the world till date equals 26,000 Hiroshima bombings. So it is about time to monitor such a prolific and dangerous activity. Out of 195 countries with declared nuclear powers, 183 have signed the CTBT and 159 countries have approved the treaty. While Japan continues negotiations with India regarding a civil nuclear agreement, India had issued a ‘unilateral moratorium’ on test of nuclear weapons. Other countries that have not accepted the CTBT are USA, Israel, China, North Korea, Pakistan, Iran and Egypt. I end this article with the number of nuclear bomb tests performed by some of the countries. While India has performed 2 tests, China has a score of 45 and USA of course over a 1000. After all they were the first in the world history to drop a nuclear bomb on a country with specific intentions!