Tyre The India Pakistan Conflict and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

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The India Pakistan Conflict and the Nuclear

Nonproliferation Treaty
Samuel E. Tyre

Ethics of Development in a Global Environment 297A

Professor Bruce Lusignan

December 5, 2003

Table of Contents

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.…………………………………………………..4

India-Pakistan Conflict…………………………………………………………………..11


Works Cited and Other Works Consulted………………………………………………18


The twentieth century saw a huge growth in the destructive powers of nations and their individual militaries. The invention of the planes, bombs, and eventually missiles has led to an increase in range and destructive power. The United States use of two bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, brought worldwide attention to the ultimate in destructive power: atomic weapons. Soon after the conclusion of the Second World War, governments joined together in an attempt to prevent nuclear proliferation with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty became a reality in 1968 and has since become the most widely signed arms control document in the world. However, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is not the only means to establish peace in a nuclear aged world.

With the possession and resulting deterrence of nuclear weapons, both India and Pakistan have come to coexist with nuclear arsenals. Despite the religious hatred between Muslims and Hindus that has plagued the region for years, not a single nuclear arm has been used. One cannot deny the added threat of nuclear weapons, however neither side has used a nuclear arm on the other as a result of deterrence.

The following paper will trace the history of both the Nonproliferation Treaty and the India-Pakistan conflict. It will conclude with a brief analysis of how both the treaty and the conflict are important to keeping nuclear peace.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also referred to as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), is an ongoing solution to the proliferation that began soon after the conclusion of World War II. With the US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the destructive power of the atom bomb was witnessed by the world. The immense power display caused immediate discomfort to national governments without nuclear capabilities. In particular, the USSR was concerned with the power which the US held. The discomfort around the globe led to the eventual creation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1968 (www.un.org). Soon after opening for signatures, many nations joined the Treaty. By March of 2002, a total of 187 nations had joined the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in an attempt to increase security from the most dangerous weapon known to man. The following section will trace the history of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty beginning in 1946 until 2002.

Soon after the conclusion of the Second World War, the rivalry between the US and the Soviet Union caused a conflict, which in turn prevented an agreement to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. “On January 24, 1946, the United Nations General Assembly established the U.N. Atomic Energy Commission ‘to deal with the problems raised by the discovery of nuclear energy.’ Due to disagreements between the United States and the Soviet Union, this commission was unsuccessful in drafting a nonproliferation treaty” (cnsdl.miis.edu). According to the plan, international control and ownership of all nuclear weapons would commence once all nations gave up their individual nuclear programs to this body, with the final nation to concede being the US. However, this plan was met with great opposition by the Soviet Union. By 1949, the USSR tested their first nuclear weapon and within one year, both the USSR and the US were engaged in a nuclear arms race (cnsdl.miis.edu).

While this arms race continued, the 1950’s saw a recognition of the benefits of nuclear energy as well as the dangers of proliferation. During the decade both “Atoms for Peace” and EURATOM were established. The Atoms for Peace program was established on December 8, 1953 by President Eisenhower. Under this program, the US obtained cooperation from forty nations between 1956 and 1959. The Atoms for Peace program “provided research reactors, nuclear training and fissionable material to twenty-six states, all of which accepted safeguards implemented by the U.S. In exchange for the transfer of peaceful nuclear technology…the United States would require safeguards - the continual monitoring of the transferred technology by inspectors to ensure it was not used for military purposes” (cnsdl.miis.edu). EURATOM, established January 1, 1958 was a similar program established in Europe to strengthen the European Community. EURATOM created “a regional nuclear safeguards system to facilitate peaceful nuclear development and cooperation and to guard against nuclear weapons proliferation” (cnsdl.miis.edu). Both of these programs were applauded by the public for increasing communication and international safety. However, the French testing of a nuclear weapon in 1960 changed the world view. “For the first time in history, a country had developed its own bomb independently and against the will of the superpowers. This raised fears regarding which other country would follow suit” (cnsdl.miis.edu). Along with the French, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, and Switzerland were actively researching nuclear technology. If any of these countries acquired nuclear capabilities, they would pose a huge threat to other nations, especially superpowers. To further clarify, smaller countries such as Germany, Italy, etc. did not possess armies large or strong enough to threaten the US or USSR. However, nuclear bombing capabilities were a threatening force that could not be overlooked by either nation.

The French nuclear test was soon followed by two events that further underscored the necessity of nuclear weapons, the Cuban Missile Crisis and China’s nuclear test. In October 1962, the Cuban Missile brought the US and the Soviet Union to the edge of war. This standoff also renewed “international pressure to halt atmospheric nuclear testing [and sign] a Partial Test Ban Treaty negotiated by the U.S., U.K., and the USSR” (cnsdl.miis.edu). The Chinese nuclear test in October of 1964 also brought attention to devising an international treaty to prevent further nuclear weapon proliferation.

In addition, the heightening Cold War tension underscored the dangers of nuclear war as well as helped create nuclear umbrellas. These nuclear umbrellas provided alliances and alternatives to “the national development of nuclear weapons, by providing nuclear defense guarantees respectively by the US and USSR” (cnsdl.miis.edu). The US extended protection under NATO and the USSR under the Warsaw Treaty Organization (Warsaw Pact). The Soviet domination of Eastern Europe precluded the development of nuclear weapons in many nations. With this bipolar tension rising, both nations delivered a large number of weapons to their respective European allies. The US also exported weapons to South Korea. The weapons put in place by the Soviets remain exclusively under Soviet control. “In contrast, several…NATO members under the aegis of the Nuclear Planning Group engaged in military planning and exercises designed to deliver U.S. nuclear weapons using allied aircraft and crews. This aspect of NATO's nuclear doctrine and planning remains controversial to this day” (cnsdl.miis.edu). Clearly, the increase in tension was going to continue until both sides were willing to come together and find a solution.

In 1965 the international community united and began the creation of the NPT. A United Nations resolution established five necessary principles of the NPT:

  • Both…must be obligated not to engage in any type of nuclear-weapon proliferation;

  • There should be an appropriate balance between the obligations undertaken

  • The Treaty should constitute a step toward nuclear disarmament, as well as toward general and complete disarmament;

  • There should be practical provisions to ensure the Treaty's effectiveness; and

  • The establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones should not be curtailed in any way under the Treaty. (cnsdl.miis.edu)

Both the US and SU agreed with the five principles above. However, as both nations drew up drafts of the NPT, the US included plans for a Multilateral Nuclear Force (MLF). The MLF called for armed nuclear naval vessels under the control of the multinational NATO military command. The reason for the US proposal of the MLF was to reassure its allies of the credibility of the US nuclear umbrella. However, this plan was met with great opposition by the Soviet Union and was eventually dropped by the US in 1967 (cnsdl.miis.edu).

As negotiations continued, an agreement came closer. The US and Soviet Union each submitted a version of the treaty to the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee on March 11, 1968. After making minor changes, the UN General Assembly asked that the three depository governments, United States, United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, open for signatures. With the creation of the final version, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty opened for signatures on July 1, 1968 (cnsdl.miss.edu).

The details of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty were explicit. According to the document:

the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), obligates the five acknowledged nuclear-weapon states (the United States, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, France, and China) not to transfer nuclear weapons, other nuclear explosive devices, or their technology to any non-nuclear-weapon state. Non-nuclear-weapon States Parties undertake not to acquire or produce nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices. They are required also to accept safeguards to detect diversions of nuclear materials from peaceful activities, such as power generation, to the production of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. This must be done in accordance with an individual safeguards agreement, concluded between each non-nuclear-weapon State Party and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). (www.fas.org)

Under these clear guidelines, there was hope to end the threat of nuclear weapons and nuclear warfare. If any country was to sign onto the NPT, they were to unconditionally agree to the document and follow all rules. Initially the United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union and 59 other nations joined the NPT. The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty was put in place on the fifth of March 1970. As time went on, more nations joined the NPT. On March 9, 1992 China joined the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and on August 3, 1992 France joined as well. In 1996, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan removed and transferred their remaining nuclear weapons to the Russian Federation (www.fas.org). As more nations joined the NPT, it became the most widely accepted arms control agreement in the world.

As of 2001, 187 nations had signed on to the NPT. The members of the Treaty are constantly changing as are the threats from certain nations. In 2001, five nations had recognized nuclear abilities:

  • China: About 300 strategic warheads

  • France: Less than 500 strategic warheads

  • Russia: 6,094 deployed strategic warheads

  • United Kingdom: Less than 200 strategic warheads

  • United States: 7,295 deployed strategic warheads (www.armscontrol.org)

In addition to these five countries, India, Pakistan and Israel are believed to possess or be able to create nuclear weapons. These three nations are labeled as “Unrecognized Nuclear-Weapon States.” In addition to these three countries, there are also current members such as North Korea, Iran and Libya that are members of the NPT, but also concern the international community. As of 2001, Iraq was also a concern, however in light of the past year’s events, no longer remains a threat to international security.

Recognized Nuclear Weapon States

Unrecognized Nuclear-Weapon States

States of Immediate Proliferation Concern

Recent Adherents to the Non-Proliferation Treaty

United Kingdom
United States


North Korea

South Africa

Figure 1: Source www.armscontrol.org

The process of creating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty began soon after the creation of the atomic bomb and is an ongoing process as of today. After the first Russian test of nuclear weapons in 1949, the two major atomic rivals, the Soviet Union and the US began an arms race with no end in sight. However, the pressure posed by the international community as well as each other led to the eventual creation of the NPT. With the initial 62 signatures in 1968, the Treaty has grown to be accepted by 187 nations as the most widely accepted arms control document in the world.

India-Pakistan Conflict

The conflict between India and Pakistan has been a great source of tension since both nations gained their independence from Britain in 1947. The most heated part of debate is the region of Kashmir, a relatively small price of land, about the size of Utah, adjacent to both India and Pakistan. Not only is this area important because it boarders China and Russia, but it has become and important symbol to each nation. India claims that if it loses the mostly Muslim region of Kashmir, the 140 million Muslims currently living in India will likely want to break from India’s government (www.cbsnews.com). Neither India nor Pakistan wants to lose the state of Kashmir to the other. Over the following section, a history of the conflict will be explained, and the potential destructiveness of a nuclear war to the people of the India/Pakistan region.

In 1947 both India and Pakistan were given their freedom from Britain. The acquisition of freedom bred a new conflict: what should be done with Kashmir? “Kashmir was given the choice of being governed by either country. While Maharaja, Hari Singh, then provincial leader of Kashmir preferred independence, he allowed the key powers of government to be given to India in return for military protection” (usgovinfo.about.com). Clearly, Hari Singh’s giving of key government powers to India was a sign the military protection and safety were of utmost importance. However, as the next half century played out, two wars and a number of smaller conflicts, brought minimal amounts of this planned protection and peace.

As British control was coming to an end in 1947, a series of hostile events created a foundation for the conflict to come. The Muslim people of the region demanded that a nation separate from India be established (www.cbsnews.com). This was requested because the Muslim population feared that if a separate nation was not created, Muslims would forever be a second-class citizens under the Hindu rule of India. On “August 14-15, British India was divided into predominately Hindu India and mostly Muslim Pakistan—consisting of Urdu-speaking West Pakistan and Bangla-speaking East Pakistan. Mohammed Ali Jinnah became president of Pakistan and Jawaharial Nehru became prime minister of India” (www.cbsnews.com). However, it was the weeks prior to this establish of different states that would provide the foundation for conflict. Millions of Hindu refugees relocated in the new nation of India while millions of Muslims fled India for Pakistan. While this mass migration was going on, religious tensions increased and riots broke out. It is known that at least 200,000 people were killed, but some estimates make the number as high as 2 million (www.cbsnews.com). To further increase the problems, war broke out in October. Pakistani troops launched a surprise attack to capture the Muslim-dominated region of Kashmir. Faced with this conflict, India offered the Hindu leader of Kashmir military support in exchange for becoming a part of India. The Kashmir maharajah agreed and became a part of India (www.cbsnews.com). Pakistani and Indian tensions remained through the end of the year. Pakistani troops continued to make progress in the northern portion of Kashmir. In 1948, “the United Nations was able to broker a cease-fire between the warring nations and established a ‘Line of Control.’ The new boarder split Kashmir almost in half, with Pakistan keeping control north of the border and India to the south” (www.cbsnews.com). A temporary peace was established.

The year 1965 saw another surprise attempt by Pakistan to claim Kashmir. In September of 1965, the two sides battled for three weeks until the United Nations secured a cease-fire as it had done in 1948. In 1966, “Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pakistani President Ayub Khan signed a Soviet-mediated peace pact that once again defined the ‘Line of Control’ in Kashmir” (www.cbsnews.com). Over the next decade, Pakistan was plagued by the separation by Bangladesh. However, during this event, both Pakistan and India were able to secretly develop weapons: “both sides secretly developed their nuclear weapons program and constructed long-range missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads. India successfully conducted its first test of a nuclear device in 1974” (www.cbsnews.com). The stakes of the conflict had been raised. No longer was each side to worry about the others army, but instead, the others nuclear capabilities. As time passed, tensions continued to rise between India and Pakistan. Not only was the dispute of the region of Kashmir in debate, but religious tensions between Hindus and Muslims were increasing as well.

In 1998 the India-Pakistan conflict almost created a nuclear war. Both sides had nuclear abilities: “India, which had already detonated a nuclear device in 1974, declared itself a nuclear state after conducting five tests from May 11-13 in the western desert state of Rajasthan, near the border with Pakistan. On May 28, Pakistan responded by detonating five nuclear devices within minutes of each other and a sixth later in the day” (www.cbsnews.com). Both states were flexing their capabilities toward one another. These tests were sending a simple message to the opposition’s leader: we have the same ability to retaliate that you possess. With the recognition of nuclear capabilities, tensions continue to remain high. At the end of 2001, in response to India’s government accusing Pakistan’s intelligence service for having sponsored two militant group attacks on parliament in New Delhi, both India and Pakistan massed tens of thousands of troops along their common boarder (www.cbsnews.com). However, both sides eventually backed down in the face of not only war, but nuclear war. Then “[o]n Jan. 1, 2002, India and Pakistan renewed an agreement not to attack each other's nuclear facilities. While viewed as a step back from war, the countries had earlier reduced diplomatic relations and banned most travel across their common border. Massive troop buildups along the border continue to be spiked by regular exchanges of small arms and mortar fire” (usgovinfo.about.com). The dispute between India and Pakistan remains a sensitive issue that must be constantly monitored by not only both sides, but the world as well.

To give a better perspective on the conflict, a number of projections have been made on the potential damage of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that the total number of nuclear weapons in the region is 50 to 75 weapons. Pakistan is believed to have about ten more then India. The NDRC “estimates their explosive yields are 5 to 25 kilotons (1 kiloton is equivalent to 1,000 tons of TNT). By comparison, the yield of the weapon the United States exploded over Hiroshima was 15 kilotons, while the bomb that exploded over Nagasaki was 21 kilotons” (www.nrdc.org). The number of warheads possessed by India and Pakistan, in combination with their destructive capabilities, makes the situation even scarier. There has been a study done to estimate the damage of nuclear attacks in the region. This study titled “The Risks and Consequences of Nuclear War in South Asia," by NRDC physicist Matthew McKinzie and Princeton scientists Zia Mian, A. H. Nayyar and M. V. Ramana, hypothesizes about the effects of a nuclear attack by both sides. This study assumes that five Indian and five Pakistani cities are attacked. In addition, each city is attacked with a 15 kiloton nuclear weapon (similar to those used in Japan during World War II). The results are as follows:

Estimated nuclear casualties for attacks on 10 large Indian and Pakistani cities

City Name

Total Population Within 5 Kilometers of Ground Zero

Number of Persons Killed

Number of Persons Severely Injured

Number of Persons Slightly Injured






















New Delhi





Total India































Total Pakistan





India and Pakistan






Figure 2: www.nrdc.org

A conflict of this magnitude would be catastrophic. As the above chart indicates, over 2.8 million civilians would lose their lives and over 4.5 million would be injured. The world and these two nations must do everything in their abilities to avoid such a conflict.


The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is an important document in maintaining world peace. It attempts to minimize the possibility of a nuclear attack on any nation. The prevention of nuclear war will save hundreds of thousands of civilian lives. However, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty may not be the best solution for all problems. For example, the standoff between the Indians and Pakistani peoples may be best dealt with using proliferation. As Kenneth N. Waltz argues, “[c]alculations about nuclear war are made differently. A nuclear world calls for a different kind of reasoning. If countries armed with nuclear weapons go to war, they do so knowing that their suffering may be unlimited” (Sagan and Waltz 7). This quote perfectly fits the current and past situation in Pakistan and India. Neither India, not Pakistan are willing to drastically change their individual behaviors in fear of nuclear war. Both sides must fear the other being irrational. With this sentiment, any single behavior could cause a nuclear attack. This attack would in turn cause a horrific war.

The key notion of this conflict is deterrence. It is through deterrence that both sides are able to prevent the other from resorting to nuclear weapons. Waltz states: “[d]eterrence is achieved not through the ability to defend but through the ability to punish” (Sagan and Waltz 3). In this case, both sides are deterred because of the others ability to punish using nuclear weapons. Although the Pakistani army may be inferior to India’s, the deterrence factor possessed by both sides, especially Pakistan, is undeniable. The fact that both sides have nuclear weapons has been an alternative to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that has kept the region relatively stable.

Clearly peace and safety can be achieved a number of ways. For most of the world, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty holds true and keeps dangerous weapons from becoming widespread. However, India and Pakistan are two exceptions to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that may prove that proliferation may indeed make the region more stable. Both countries possess weapons of mass destruction and the threat of either side using them makes all-out war less of an option. The deterrence factor that comes with the acquisition of nuclear bombs must be recognized in this situation. The only question that looms is the following: will the possession of nuclear weapons by India and Pakistan continue to deter the other? Hopefully the nuclear weapons will continue to keep both sides at bay.

Works Cited

Kimball, Daryl. The State of Nuclear Proliferation 2001. 04 Dec. 2003 <http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/statefct.asp>.

Sagan, Scott D., and Waltz Kenneth N. The Spread of Nuclear Weapons. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1995.

The consequences of Nuclear Conflict between India and Pakistan. Jun. 6 2002. 04 Dec. 2003 .

The India and Pakistan Conflict. 04 Dec. 2003 <http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/india_pakistan/home.html>.

India – Pakistan: Background & Threat. 04 Dec. 2003 <http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/weekly/aa010202a.htm>.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT]. 04 Dec. 2003 .

Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons: History. 04 Dec. 2003 <http://cnsdl.miis.edu/npt/npt_3/history.htm>.

NPT: Brief Background. 04 Dec. 2003 < http://www.un.org/Depts/dda/WMD/treaty/>.

Other Works Consulted

Spring, Baker. Ten Principles for Combating Nuclear Proliferation. 10 Apr. 2003. 04 Dec. 2003 < http://www.heritage.org/Research/MissileDefense/hl783.cfm>.

Historical Background. 04 December 2003 .

India and Pakistan: Fifty Years of Independence. 04 Dec. 2003 <http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9708/India97/index.html>.

India-Pakistan Nuclear Central. 04 Dec. 2003 < http://www.nci.org/ind-pak2.htm>.

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