Editorials, Uncategorized

The great nuclear disarmament divide

Over the past six years, a concerted effort by committed States, international organizations and civil society to reframe the international discourse on nuclear weapons around humanitarian considerations has gathered significant support. Momentum is now building towards the negotiation of a treaty to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons due to their unacceptable humanitarian consequences. A global prohibition on nuclear weapons could be concluded and have significant normative and practical impacts with or without the initial participation of the nuclear-armed States.

  • During the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) on nuclear disarmament, held at the UN in Geneva this year, a majority of States expressed support for negotiating a prohibition treaty. A resolution to start negotiations is expected to be sought at the General Assembly in October.

 

Significance of Humanitarian approach:

The humanitarian initiative on nuclear weapons has aimed to change the terms of global debate, moving from notions of strategic stability focused on the perceived interests of the nuclear-armed States and their nuclear-dependent allies, towards a focus on the impact of the weapons themselves on people and places. Concentrating on these impacts raises fundamental questions about nuclear weapons’ acceptability, with the evidence clearly highlighting these weapons’ incompatibility with humanitarian considerations.

  • Such a reframing has implications for nuclear-armed States and their allies that depend on others’ nuclear weapons in their security doctrines. It shifts the burden of proof onto them to demonstrate the legitimacy of their position in the face of the unacceptable humanitarian effects of any use of nuclear weapons. It avoids engaging with deterrence-based arguments on their own terms, whilst seeking to challenge their deep acceptance.
  • The humanitarian approach to disarmament considers weapons from the perspective of harm caused, using a broader framing than legal argumentation alone. It aims to introduce doubt about accepted practices and whether these can then withstand the scrutiny of States and military commanders who consider themselves responsible actors.
  • The humanitarian initiative challenges the special status that the nuclear-armed States parties to the NPT have assumed for themselves as legitimate possessors, by seeking to delegitimize any possession of nuclear weapons.
  • Though the humanitarian initiative has arguably not yet had a great impact on domestic political discourse in nuclear-armed States, it is already creating tensions for the policies of some of their nuclear-dependent allies.

Nuclear Umbrellas

What happened during the recent talks?

Following two sessions of discussions during 2016, the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) adopted a report, with a recommendation that the General Assembly should convene a conference in 2017, “open to all States, with the participation and contribution of international organizations and civil society, to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” The report will be sent to the UN General Assembly, where a resolution to start negotiations is expected to be proposed to take this forward.

  • The final draft produced by the UN working group had been carefully revised in order to achieve consensus and be adopted without a vote. But at the last minute Australia hardened its position and called for a vote. Ultimately 68 states voted to adopt the report, 21 states joined Australia in voting against adoption and 13 states abstained.
  • However, a recommendation with a specific start-by date is a reflection of heightened international public opinion seeking the signing of a treaty banning the use of nuclear weapons, focusing on their inhumane nature.

 

Why Australia hardened its position?

Australia has attempted to derail a ban on nuclear weapons at a UN meeting on disarmament, by single-handedly forcing a vote on a report that had been expected to pass unanimously.

  • Australia took the floor on behalf of 14 umbrella states to declare that the text was not acceptable. When the chair went ahead to try to adopt it, Australia intervened in its national capacity to block consensus and call for a vote.
  • The principal goal for Australia and around 28 other countries in nuclear alliances (also known as ‘umbrella states’) was to ensure that the group did not recommend the negotiation of a new treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.
  • Australia believes that a simple Ban Treaty would not facilitate the reduction in nuclear weapon. It might even harden the resolve of those possessing nuclear weapons not to reduce their arsenals.
  • According to Australia, a complete ban would actually “divert attention from the sustained, practical steps needed for effective disarmament”.

Nuclear Umbrella:

Nuclear umbrella is generally understood to cover a form of military cooperation by which one or more nuclear-armed states provide supposed nuclear protection for one or more non-nuclear-armed states. A crucial point to understand about nuclear umbrellas is that they are not necessarily codified by authoritative documents. Rather, nuclear umbrellas are rooted in military and diplomatic practices.

  • A ‘nuclear umbrella state’ is a state without nuclear weapons under the supposed protection of the nuclear weapons of another state.
  • A nuclear umbrella is not simply a by-product of a military alliance involving nuclear- and non-nuclear states. In order to exist, a nuclear umbrella must both be contended and not explicitly refuted. Someone must declare that a relationship of extended nuclear deterrence is in operation, and then the other party (or parties) must accept that statement to be correct—either tacitly or explicitly.
  • Egypt, for example, a military ally of the United States, forcefully rejected the United States’ alleged offer of extending its nuclear umbrella over Egypt in 2009. Several other states, including Argentina, Syria, and the Philippines are allied to nuclear-armed states without being considered umbrella states for that reason. Nuclear umbrellas must be mutually accepted.

 

Controversies surrounding this practice:

The practice of extending nuclear umbrellas has caused considerable controversy, as it arguably undermines efforts at nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. By subscribing to supposed nuclear protection, umbrella states signal that nuclear weapons are useful tools to enhance national security.

  • Another controversy has been over certain states’ simultaneous adherence to a nuclear-weapon-free-zone treaty and a nuclear umbrella. On the definition above, four countries are in this situation per 2015: While Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan are simultaneously members of Collective Security Treaty Organization- CSTO and parties to the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, Australia is simultaneously under the US’ nuclear umbrella and a party to the South Pacific Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.
  • Even more controversial is the practice of ‘nuclear sharing’, whereby one or more non-nuclear-armed states are engaged in the nuclear planning of one or more nuclear-armed states. This is standard practice in NATO, where all member states bar France are members of the Nuclear Planning Group.
  • The United States has also long engaged in a practice of stationing nuclear weapons in allied countries. Nuclear warheads are still hosted by five NATO member states: Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. American weapons were previously also stationed in the NATO members Canada, Greece, and the United Kingdom, and in (non-NATO members) the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan.
  • The practice of stationing nuclear weapons in other countries has been sharply criticised by a number of states. They point out that Article I of the NPT commits the five recognised nuclear-weapon states (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) not to transfer nuclear weapons or technology to non-nuclear-weapon states. The corollary Article II commits non-nuclear weapon states not to receive nuclear weapons.

 

Why a complete ban on nuclear weapons is necessary?

Nuclear and Radiation Accidents: This is the biggest disadvantage for Nuclear Weapons as it can accidentally lead to massive radiation disaster.

Low level of Radioactivity from Normal Operations: The nuclear weapons industry produces a large volume of low-level radioactive waste in the form of contaminated items like clothing, hand tools, water purifier resins, and (upon decommissioning) the materials of which the reactor itself is built.

Terrorism: There is danger that nuclear weapons in politically unstable countries like Pakistan may fall into the hands of rogue terrorist elements. These organizations have little fear of reprisals and can use these nuclear bombs in a cavalier manner against major cities for frivolous reasons.

Disability and Cancers amongst affected Population for Decades: Nuclear Weapons were only used by USA against Japan when 2 low level nuclear bombs were dropped over Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The Bombs not only killed thousands but also caused disability and radiation diseases amongst survivors and helpers. These effects were still being felt even now almost 65 years after the bombs were destroyed in 1945.

Environment Disaster: These Nuclear Weapons not only kill humans but also destroy the environment and the wildlife for hundreds of years. The residual radiation kills all plants and animals making it a dead zone for hundreds of years. The Chernobyl site where a nuclear power plant disaster took place is still unusable today.

Diverts Resources from Productive Uses: Nuclear Weapons are very costly for small countries with limited resources like Pakistan and North Korea. While the majority of the population remains mired in desperate poverty, developing nuclear weapons diverts precious resources to nuclear weapons programs. Nuclear Delivery Mechanisms like Fighters, Missiles and Submarines also cost billions of dollars.

Nuclear Weapons Testing causes Pollution and Degradation: Before Nuclear Weapons Testing was banned, they used to cause huge pollution of land and water by major powers. Thousands of Nuclear Tests by the Big Powers resulted in radiation pollution of the sea and land.

 

Way forward:

The OEWG process reflects a great disarmament divide not only among the nuclear haves and have-nots, but also among the umbrella states. On the one hand, there are umbrella states that are addicted to their nuclear protection, even though it is not apparent that such security is omnipotent. On the other hand, there are umbrella states that clearly feel trapped by the protection provided, but are unsure how get out of this situation. This debate will now play out on the floor of the UNGA.

  • The recommendation for ban will now be submitted to the fall session of the U.N. General Assembly. A majority of 107 U.N. member states are said to be in support of starting negotiations, indicating that there is a sufficient chance that the resolution will be passed.
  • A treaty comprehensively banning nuclear weapons, with or without the initial participation of the nuclear-armed states, would change the global legal and political landscape with respect to nuclear weapons, making clear that the international community as a whole finds these weapons unacceptable.
  • Such a ban treaty would build on the existing legal regime and fill current gaps in the framework with respect to prohibition, providing legal clarity and increasing stigma against nuclear weapons. It would have a significant normative and practical impact through making a series of prohibitions, from possession to cooperation and financing, and including positive obligations such as victim assistance.

 

Conclusion:

The commencement of negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, which now has considerable support from a diverse range of states and regions, would generate significant attention that could begin to affect domestic political calculations in the nuclear-armed States, whether they join the treaty initially or not. In the longer term, these States would increasingly lose control of the narrative around nuclear weapons after the declaration of their illegality, with unpredictable political and practical consequences. Pushback against the humanitarian initiative from the nuclear-armed states and their allies has increasingly included anxiety about a ban.

GS-2, International Relations, Uncategorized

NSG, NPT, MTCR, IAEA etc

What is NSG?

  • Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.
  • The NSG aims to prevent nuclear exports for commercial and peaceful purposes from being used to make nuclear weapons. NSG members are expected to forgo nuclear trade with governments that do not subject themselves to international measures and inspections designed to provide confidence that their nuclear imports are not used to develop nuclear arms. The NSG has two sets of Guidelines listing the specific nuclear materials, equipment, and technologies that are subject to export controls.
  • Presently there are 48 members in NSG.
  • Signatory of NPT is considered as important criteria to become member of NSG.

 

What is NPT?

  • Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to foster the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of disarmament. The Treaty establishes a safeguards system under the responsibility of the IAEA, which also plays a central role under the Treaty in areas of technology transfer for peaceful purposes.
  • Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty entered into force in 1970.

 

What is IAEA

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons.
  • The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957.
  • Though established independently of the United Nations through its own international treaty, the IAEA Statute, the IAEA reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.

Background

 

  • The NSG group was set up in 1975 as a reaction to India’s 1974 nuclear test. It isolated India from nuclear trade with the rest of the world.
  • However, in 2008 when the Indo-US Bilateral Civil Nuclear Agreement was signed, the US facilitated lifting of the NSG trade restrictions against India. It was known as NSG waiver.

 

What is NSG WAIVER?

  • It means exempting India from the NSG’s rules governing civilian nuclear trade without it being member of NSG.
  • The waiver means India now has the legal right, under the world nuclear regulatory regime, to trade for civilian nuclear fuel and technology.

 

Why NSG members agreed to grant waiver to India even though India is not a signatory of NPT?

  • The participating countries took note of India’s nuclear-related activities and appreciated its commitments to non-proliferation over all these years including the 20 years between India’s first nuclear test in 1974 and the latter in 1998 while it had definitely possessed the nuclear arsenal.
  • The NSG was satisfied and convinced that India would finalise the separation plan for its civilian nuclear facilities that shall be open to the IAEA safeguards and would accept the Additional Protocol.
  • The NSG was further appreciative of India’s gesture of voluntary moratorium on further nuclear testing and assurances for harmonisation of its export regulations with the NSG guidelines.
  • India’s pledge of “no-first-use” (NFU) of its nuclear weapons was unique since no other country except China had ever announced or even intended such a policy.

 

What did the NSG waiver mean for India?

  • The NSG waiver had thus opened opportunities for India to acquire nuclear technology and materials from other countries mostly on bilateral partnership for use in its civilian activities under full-scale IAEA safeguards. It will also encourage transfer of nuclear technologies from India to other third world countries.
  • The waiver is significant because India can now engage in high-tech nuclear commerce while its nuclear weapons programme remains unaffected, a right enjoyed only by the P-5. India can now have access to nuclear technology without signing the NPT or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
  • Till then only states (other than the five recognized nuclear weapons states) that placed all their nuclear facilities under IAEA inspection and were signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) have been allowed, under NSG rules, to import civilian nuclear fuel and technology.
  • The waiver also means that India can enter into civil-nuclear agreements with Russia and France and will also enable India to gain access to nuclear fuel from the international market.
  • Most importantly, the waiver confers a de facto nuclear weapons power status to India.

 

Will India able to access all nuclear technology once it became member of NSG

  • There are many technologies that it still cannot access due to MTCR and two other denial regimes, the Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group. Thus India wants to be a member of all these groups.

MTCR

  • The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) was established in April 1987 by the G7 countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Great Britain, and the United States.
  • The MTCR was created in order to curb the spread of unmanned delivery systems for nuclear weapons, specifically delivery systems that could carry a minimum payload of 500 kg a minimum of 300 km.
  • India has officially applied for membership of MTCR. United States, France and some other nations have publicly announced their support for India’s membership in the MTCR. However, at the summit in Rotterdam in October 2015, India was denied access to the MTCR, with Italy rumoured to be the dissenting party, probably as a consequence of the Italian Marine Case.

Wassenaar Arrangement

  • It’s full name is “The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies”
  • The Wassenaar Arrangement was established to contribute to regional and international security and stability by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilizing accumulations.
  • Participating States seek, through their national policies, to ensure that transfers of these items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities which undermine these goals, and are not diverted to support such capabilities.

Australia Group

  • The Australia Group is an informal group of countries established in 1985 (after the use of chemical weapons by Iraq in 1984) to help member countries to identify those exports which need to be controlled so as not to contribute to the spread of chemical and biological weapons.

 

Analysis

  • Now India wants to be the member of NSG and India’s pending application for entry into NSG will come up for consideration in June 2016.
  • But according to the rule of NSG, decision of inducting new member would be taken through consensus only i.e. every member should agree. It means even one member can thwart the entry of any country into the group.
  • China is opposed to India’s membership in NSG citing that India has not signed NPT.
  • Apart from this China has also encouraged Pakistan to apply for NSG membership so as to link India’s entry with that of Pakistan.
  • Pakistan fears that if India became member of NSG than it will not be able to become its member because as decision to induct new member is taken on consensus; India will never support membership for Pakistan. It is one of the reason Pakistan is opposing India’s membership.
GS-2, International Relations, Uncategorized

India joins The Hague Code of Conduct

India has joined The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC).

  • India’s joining the Code signals its readiness to further strengthen the global non-proliferation regimes.
  • The government has also made it clear that this joining will not have any impact on the national security as well as country’s missile programmes.

About HCoC:

HCoC is a global ballistic missile proliferation regime established in 2002. It is a voluntary legally non-binding multilateral body aimed at preventing the spread of ballistic missiles that can deliver weapons of mass destruction.

  • It is the only multilateral code in the area of disarmament which has been adopted over the last years. It is the only normative instrument to verify the spread of ballistic missiles.
  • The HCOC does not ban ballistic missiles, but it does call for restraint in their production, testing, and export. Presently, there are 137 signatories.
  • The Code is meant to supplement the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) but its membership is not restricted. Under the Code, States make politically binding commitments to curb the proliferation of WMD-capable ballistic missiles and to exercise maximum restraint in developing, testing, and deploying such missiles.
  • Given the similarities between the technologies used in ballistic missiles and civilian rockets, the Code also introduces transparency measures such as annual declarations and pre-launch notifications regarding ballistic missile and space launch programs.
  • Austria is the administrative Central Contact of the Code, coordinating the information exchange under HCOC.
GS-2, International Relations, Uncategorized

APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation)

What is being demanded?

  • An agreement to reduce industrial tariffs to very low levels or eliminate them over a specified time period.
  • An early deal on a Bilateral Investment Treaty with the U.S.
  • Participation in negotiations for a proposed Investment Facilitation Agreement at the World Trade Organisation-level.

Background:

India has applied for APEC membership in 1991 on the basis of its geographic location, potential size of the economy and degree of trade interaction with the Asia-Pacific. However, at the fifth APEC Leaders’ meeting in Vancouver in 1997, a decision was taken to place a ten-year moratorium on expanding membership, which continues informally till date.

Way ahead:

India is engaging with APEC member countries to develop a consensus on lifting the informal moratorium on accepting new members and to actively push for India’s candidature for membership of APEC.

Benefits for India:

  • Membership in APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) would provide India a constructive forum to glean insight from other Asian countries that have already taken significant steps to advance their economies.
  • India is also striving for major economic reforms to open India’s markets, improve trade volume, and facilitate its growing population’s need for continued job growth. Hence, APEC can be the right platform.

APEC:

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific. It aims to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.

Functions:

  • APEC works to help all residents of the Asia-Pacific participate in the growing economy.
  • APEC projects provide digital skills training for rural communities and help indigenous women export their products abroad.
  • Recognizing the impacts of climate change, APEC members also implement initiatives to increase energy efficiency and promote sustainable management of forest and marine resources.
  • The forum adapts to allow members to deal with important new challenges to the region’s economic well-being. This includes ensuring disaster resilience, planning for pandemics, and addressing terrorism.

Members:

  • APEC’s 21 member economies are Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Chile; People’s Republic of China; Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; Japan; Republic of Korea; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Peru; The Philippines; The Russian Federation; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; United States of America; Viet Nam.
  • APEC Members account for approximately 40% of the world’s population, approximately 54% of the world’s gross domestic product and about 44% of world trade.

In APEC, all economies have an equal say and decision-making is reached by consensus. There are no binding commitments or treaty obligations. Commitments are undertaken on a voluntary basis and capacity building projects help members implement APEC initiatives. The APEC process is supported by a permanent secretariat based in Singapore.

GS-2, International Relations, Uncategorized

India signs agreement with IBRD

The Government of India and the World Bank have signed a US$ 9.2 million grant agreement under the World Bank-Global Environment Facility (GEF) Program for the Efficient and Sustainable City Bus Service Project to improve the efficiency and attractiveness of bus services in select Indian cities.

Key facts:

  • The project will demonstrate low cost high impact initiatives in efficient bus operations by focusing on modernizing city bus services through modern depots for improving the maintenance of buses; introducing modern Intelligent Transport Systems and Management Information Systems for better planning and management of operations; and by providing technical support to vehicles and drivers for better fuel efficiency, among others.
  • Demonstration cities where the various initiatives for improving city bus services will be undertaken are Mira Bhayandar in Maharashtra, Chandigarh, Jaipur, and Bhopal.
  • This project will complement the Government of India’s Bus Funding Scheme launched to promote public transport by supporting cities to modernize their bus services.
  • The initiatives for modernizing city bus transport services under this project will also help select cities reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) while offering practical transport solutions.
  • The project is designed to specifically focus on identifying regulatory, institutional and fiscal constraints to operation of sustainable city bus services and address the weak capacity in the urban bus sector and facilitate the development of a vibrant urban bus sector community through the development of a comprehensive capacity building program.

Background:

The World Bank Group-Global Environment Facility (GEF) directly support actions to combat major environmental issues such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, polluted international waters, land degradation and desertification, and persistent organic pollutants, as well as stimulate green growth. The program supports an active portfolio of over 200 investments globally.

Editorials, GS-2, GS-3, Uncategorized

India and the NSG

Recently, India rejected China’s contention that it must sign the NPT to get membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, saying France was included in the elite group without signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

All you need to know about the issue:

nsg_2606901f

What is NSG?

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials. Interestingly, the NSG was set up in 1974 as a reaction to India’s nuclear tests to stop what it called the misuse of nuclear material meant for peaceful purposes. Currently, it has 48 members.

Background:

India sought membership of the NSG in 2008, but its application hasn’t been decided on, primarily because signing the NPT or other nuclear moratoriums on testing is a pre-requisite. However, India has received a special waiver to conduct nuclear trade with all nuclear exporters.

India, Pakistan, Israel and South Sudan are among the four UN member states which have not signed the NPT, the international pact aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.

Recent controversy:

China had opposed India’s bid to get NSG membership on the ground that it was yet to sign the NPT. It had said all the multilateral non-proliferation export control regime including the NSG have regarded NPT as an important standard for the expansion of the NSG. And hence, members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group should be party to NPT.

How India defends its move?

It says, the NSG is an ad hoc export control regime and France, which was not an NPT member for some time, was a member of the NSG since it respected NSG’s objectives. Also, the NPT allows civil nuclear cooperation with non-NPT countries.

Why India should be granted NSG membership:

In this game of developing nuclear weapons India has not indulged in any dubious/clandestine activity and its programme has been developed solely by years of hard work indigenously. By this single act India has shown that developing a credible nuclear weapons programme through honest and civilian means is possible for any country having high-level scientific manpower and materials.

Besides, by declaring a voluntary moratorium on further underground nuclear tests India has effectively acted in sense and spirit of NPT/CTBT provisions. By steering its programme only as a minimum deterrence and pledging NFU unless faced with an attack of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), India has established itself as a responsible nuclear state.

Benefits associated with NSG membership- Once admitted, an NSG member state gets:

  • Timely information on nuclear matters
  • Contributes by way of information
  • Has confirmed credentials
  • Can act as an instrument of harmonization and coordination
  • Is part of a very transparent process.

Way ahead:

NSG membership cannot be linked with NPT. But, it can be linked with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). And India has closely cooperated with IAEA. Therefore, India’s case should be judged independently without prejudice or on requests to block it following lobbying from other countries. In 2008, China was among the last few countries to lift its objection to clean waiver by NSG to India. During American President Barack Obama’s visit to India in January 2015, the US had announced that India was ready to join the NSG. This position was reiterated by the US recently.

  • However, to build support in the NSG, which operates by consensus, India will need to take additional steps to demonstrate its commitment to nonproliferation. India’s case is being pressed by the US and other influential countries based on the India’s record in non-proliferation and the India-US civil nuclear accord.
  • Also, India is actively eyeing membership of the MTCR, the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia group along with the NSG.

Conclusion:

India’s nuclear doctrine is non-proliferation-oriented and is both sensible and responsible. Having accepted IAEA safeguards and Additional Protocol and having effectively subscribed to and practised the principles of non-proliferation, it is immaterial if India has formally signed the NPT, CTBT or any other such treaty. India has already acquired high-level expertise in the peaceful use of nuclear energy in industry, power, agriculture and health care. India’s membership of the NSG shall not only benefit it but also encourage civil nuclear trade globally without compromising on world peace and harmony.
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Other international treaties:

Missile Technology Controls Regime (MTCR):

MTCR was established in 1987 by the G7 countries and aims to limit the proliferation of missile and other unmanned delivery systems that could be used for chemical or nuclear attacks. It is an involuntary partnership between 34 countries which urge each other to restrict their missle export and technologies capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload a minimum of 300 kilometres.

India formally applied for a MTCR membership in June 2015 which was eventually blocked by Italy in protest of India’a arrest of two Italian marines suspected of shooting an Indian fisherman. The membership would have immensely helped India in getting access to to world-class technology, according to a report by The Economic Times. It would have also allowed India to export its own technology to countries that comply with MTCR.

 

Nuclear Suppliers Group:

The NSG is a group of nuclear suppliers countries which promote non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. It attempts to control the exports and re-transfer of materials applicable to nuclear weapon development. It was founded in 1974 as to response to India’s ‘Smiling Buddha’. Countries already part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) saw the need to further limit the export of nuclear equipment.

India’s attempt to joining the NSG was blocked by several nations who considered signing of the NPT as an important standard for the NSG’s expansion. President Barack Obama, however, reaffirmed that US believes India meets the missile technology control regime and is ready for NSG.

 

Wassenaar Arrangement:

Wassenaar Arrangement was established to contribute to regional and international security and stability. It aims to promote transparency and greater responsibility in transfer of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies. It has 41 member states and was established in 1996 as an extension of Coordination committee for Multilateral export Controls (COCOM). The participating states ensure that transfer of materials do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities.

India is not a member of the Wassenaar Arrangement, but hopes to be one soon. The United States is likely to support India’s bid.

 

The Australia Group:

The Australia Group is an informal forum of countries that seeks to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical or biological weapons. It was established in 1985 and presently has 42 members.

GS-2, International Relations, Uncategorized

The fee for NSG membership

The Hindu

News:

  • China’s announcement that it intends to oppose India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group unless it agrees to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
  • For the past year, India had made admission to the 48-member NSG a focus of its international outreach, though membership has been a goal since the India-U.S. civil nuclear agreement was signed in 2008.
  • Several major countries including the U.S., Russia, Germany, the U.K. and Australia have openly backed the bid, despite the fact that India is not a signatory to the NPT, widely considered to be a key criterion for NSG membership.
  • In 2015, India reached out to many other NSG members, including those such as Ireland and Sweden that are members of the pro-disarmament group, the New Agenda Coalition, and have traditionally been opposed to its admission.
  • Clearly, China’s stand is a combination of its fraught relations with India as well as its desire that its “all-weather friend” Pakistan not be disadvantaged in the process.
  • However, this is not the end of the road for India’s NSG ambitions.
  • For this, the government must begin an internal debate to appraise its own position on the NSG membership, and to figure out how far it is willing to go to secure it.
  • It will?
    • 1. Have to reckon with the possibility that NSG members could object to an “India-specific” ruling, and that other non-NPT countries, including Pakistan and Israel, may also benefit from any flexibility that is shown in India’s case.
    • 2. There is a possibility that India could receive a “second class” membership, and not be considered a “nuclear weapons state” by the NSG.
    • 3. Membership of the NSG, a body set up specifically in response to India’s nuclear test in 1974, will eventually require India to curtail its nuclear weapons programme.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s comments, made after the Nuclear Security Summit, that:

  • The nuclear arsenals of India and Pakistan are taking them in the “wrong direction”, underscore this.
  • If India aims to be part of the elite NSG club, it must have a realistic idea of what the fee for full membership is, added to the diplomatic outreach required to win support from China. A full and transparent cost-benefit analysis is crucial.
GS-2, International Relations, Uncategorized

UK exit could be good for Europe

Brexit(Britain’s exit) from the European Union(EU)

What is the European Union?

The European Union – often known as the EU – is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries. It began after World War Two to foster economic co-operation, with the idea that countries which trade together are more likely to avoid going to war with each other. It has since grown to become a “single market” allowing goods and people to move around, basically as if the member states were one country. It has its own currency, the euro, which is used by 19 of the member countries, its own parliament and it now sets rules in a wide range of areas – including on the environment, transport, consumer rights and even things like mobile phone charges.

What is happening?

A referendum is being held on Thursday, 23 June to decide whether Britain should leave or remain in the European Union.

Why is a referendum being held?

Prime Minister David Cameron promised to hold one if he won the 2015 general election, in response to growing calls from his own Conservative MPs and the UK Independence Party (UKIP), who argued that Britain had not had a say since 1975, when it voted to stay in the EU in a referendum. The EU has changed a lot since then, gaining more control over our daily lives, they argued. Mr Cameron said: “It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics.”

UK Treasury’s paper

  • It has published a paper which weighs in 3 alternatives after Brexit from EU in long term
  • The alternatives are based on different degrees of access to EU and non EU markets

The paper does not exhaust all possibilities even if only “trade policy” is taken into consideration

Methodology followed

The paper depends mainly on domestic policy and many other things, and these factors are independent of the choice on Brexit

Euro zone’s future isn’t bright also

  • Many member suffer from unemployment and persistent slow growth
  • It is just monetary union(no political or fiscal union)
  • No structural reforms in sight, the euro system is weak
  • It goes from a crisis to crisis and improvising as it goes

EU after Brexit

  • Preventing any further defection(any other member leaving)
  • EU should provide greater support for its weakest members
  • Having lost Britain(most aggressively defiant member) the balance of opinion would shift in favour of closer cooperation
  • It might be good for EU with less unemployment, greater economic resilience
  • EU neighbours would prosper too and it would be good for Britain.

 

Britain after Brexit

The exit might have consequences on the political structure of the parliament, which would in turn have effect on its policies after Brexit, thus there is no knowing with certainty that the exit will have a bad effect on the UK economy.

GS-2, International Relations, Uncategorized

East Asia Summit (EAS)

webbannereas860

East Asia Summit is a unique Leaders-led forum of 18 countries of the Asia-Pacific regionformed to further the objectives of regional peace, security and prosperity.

Why is EAS important?

10 East Asia Summits have been held so far. India has been a part of this process since its inception in 2005. Think of it this way –

  • EAS has held its annual meetings without fail since its inception
  • As members – it has 10 ASEAN nations + 8 strategic partners including US, China, India, Japan
  • This is what our PM said in the 9th EAS – “No other forum brings together such a large collective weight of global population, youth, economy and military strength. Nor is any other forum is so critical for peace, stability and prosperity in Asia-Pacific and the world.”

6 priority areas of regional cooperation within the framework of the EAS

  1. Environment and Energy,
  2. Education,
  3. Finance,
  4. Global Health Issues and Pandemic Diseases,
  5. Natural Disaster Management, and
  6. ASEAN Connectivity

India’s involvement in regional collaboration in these 6 priority areas

#1. Education

At the 4th East Asia Summit (EAS), held in Thailand on 24-25 October 2009, the EAS Leaders endorsed the proposal for the revival of Nalanda University.

source: outlookindia.com
  • Nalanda was a renowned Buddhist centre of learning, in Ancient India. It taught students in medicine, mathematics, astronomy and politics
  • The University envisages seven schools located at its campus in Rajgir
  • Ministry of External Affairs has offered 6 scholarships to students from Cambodia, Myanmar, Lao PDR and Vietnam to pursue higher studies at Nalanda University

#2. Global Health Issues and Pandemic Diseases

  • Australia and India are co-chairs of the Task Force for Access to Quality Medicines and other Technologies Task Force (AQMTF)
  • India has also hosted a Round table on Trauma Care and Nursing on 15-16 October 2015, in New Delhi

#3. Natural Disaster Management

  • 2012: India hosted an ‘EAS-India Workshop 2012: Building Regional Framework for Earthquake Risk Management’ in New Delhi
  • 2014: India also hosted the first Meeting of the 24×7 Points of Contact among the National Disaster Response Agencies of East Asia Summit (EAS) countries
  • Launch of Virtual Knowledge Portal (VKP). What is this?

The Virtual Knowledge Portal (VKP), a web based tool to share knowledge and best practices related to natural disaster risk assessment, mitigation and response among EAS countries. It is hosted by Natural Institute of Disaster Management, New Delhi.

#4. Launch of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

At the 7th EAS in November 2012, the Leaders of 16 EAS participating countries launched the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

What is RCEP?

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the 10 member states of the ASEAN and the six states with which ASEAN has existing FTAs (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).

source: asiafoundation.org

 

 

 

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GS-2, International Relations, Uncategorized

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

6 energy rich gulf countries and the India’s evolving relationship with this regional grouping.


The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a regional political organisation comprising the energy rich Gulf monarchies – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

gcc_map_orig

When and why was it founded?

  • Establishment in Abu Dhabi in 1981 | HQ in Riyadh
  • The founding charter focused more on issues of social and cultural cohesion, environmental and scientific coordination and economic cooperation
  • Recently, Morocco and Jordan have applied for the GCC membership which is currently being studied by the GCC Expert Committee

India and GCC: Contours of cooperation

  • The Gulf constitutes the “immediate” neighborhood of India separated only by the Arabian Sea
  • The Gulf, as the principal source of India’s energy requirements, is central to our energy security interests: it meets 75% of our oil needs at present; as our demand increases in coming years, India’s dependence will go up to 90% by 2035.
  • GCC is India’s largest trading partner as an economic grouping, with two-way trade being more than our ties with the European Union, ASEAN and North America
  • Four GCC countries figure in India’s top 10 trade partners.
  • We also have an eight-million strong community in the GCC that remits annually $35 billion to the national exchequer
  • The India-GCC Free Trade Agreement which is in under negotiation could usher in a new era of trade

 

Although India and the GCC countries share a strong economic relationship, there is much progress to be achieved on the political front. Let’s have a close look at some of the important dimensions –

#1. Defence Diplomacy

India’s defence diplomacy with countries of the GCC is well reputed.

  • India has signed a military protocol with Oman which has facilitated joint military exercises
  • India has also signed a defence cooperation agreement with the UAE
  • Our new naval diplomacy document increases our focus on west asian countries. Click to read more about it here.

#2. Counter Terrorism

The meteoric rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in neighbouring countries like Iraq and Syria pose a huge threat to the peace and stability of the GCC countries.

#3. Maritime Security

Primary maritime security threats include piracy at sea, smuggling of narcotics and arms and the imminent threat of maritime terrorism.

  • These threats pose major challenges to the Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs) that India depends heavily on to carry out trade by sea
  • India’s international trade by sea amounts to about 90% of the foreign trade, and it takes place through 13 major ports and several minor ports
  • In recent times the term “Indo Pacific era” has gained currency. You would do well to read this post on – Indian maritime challenges and its diplomatic dimensions

#4. Culture & Diaspora

  • We have an eight-million strong community in the GCC that remits annually $35 billion to the national exchequer
  • Minor concerns – If you remember, in 2013 Saudi Arabia issues a Nitaqat Law – The ‘Nitaqat’ law makes it mandatory for local companies to hire one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers
  • There had been widespread perception that the new policy will lead to denial of job opportunities for a large number of Indians working there.
  • India had back then proactively conveyed concerns to the Saudi government

 

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