Towards Disarmament

N.D. Jayaprakash

By A. Vinod Kumar
Cambridge University Press, New Delhi, 2014, pp. xvii 233, Rs. 745.00


The book under review seeks to investigate nonproliferation as a concept and examine the role of initiatives like counter-proliferation and its offshoots and their place in the nonproliferation regime. Notwithstanding the author’s attempts at enunciating his postulations, the title of the book itself betrays his predetermined conclusions about the subject. India was not only one of those states that had taken the initiative in evolving the concept of nonproliferation but was also its staunchest and most abiding proponent at least until 1998. For all practical purposes, ‘outliers’ are those Nuclear Weapon States (NWS), which had exempted themselves from all the obligatory provisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) while placing the onus for strictly implementing those very provisions on the Non-Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS). By opposing both horizontal as well as vertical proliferation, nonproliferation, from India’s point of view at least until 1998, was equivalent to the concept of Nuclear Freeze (a concept that gained prominence only in the early 1980s). On the other hand, as far as NWS were concerned, NPT not only gave them the legitimacy to indulge in unbridled vertical proliferation and conduct nuclear weapon tests at will but also the NWS had arrogated to themselves the right of use of nuclear weapons on NNWS and against each other. When the P-5 nations are guilty of indulging in reckless vertical proliferation, can there be any justification for branding India, which had wholeheartedly supported a nondiscriminatory NPT, as the ‘outlier’? In short, having posed the wrong question, the book comes out as a haphazard narrative of the author’s quest for what he has perceived as the right answer. The NPT in its present form was devised specifically to marginalize the import of the successful outcome of the peace and disarmament movements especially of the McCloy-Zorin Accords, which was signed between the U.S. and the USSR on 20 September, 1961 and which was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on 20 December, 1961. It may be noted that NAM had played a crucial role in shaping the McCloy-Zorin Accord. The author concedes that the NPT regime ‘depicted a discriminatory system that perpetuated and thrived on inequalities and imbalances’ (p. 28). The author has further noted as follows: ‘That disarmament obligations of the nuclear weapon states were not institutionalized in the NPT, enabled the continual possession of nuclear weapons by a privileged few, and in practice legitimized vertical proliferation even as ...

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