An International Legal Code for Nuclear Powers: Will it serve any purpose?

Author : Prashant R Dahat

A nuclear weapon is a weapon which derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions of fission or fusion. As a result, even a nuclear weapon with a relatively small yield is significantly more powerful than the largest conventional explosives, and a single weapon is capable of destroying an entire city. In the history of warfare, nuclear weapons have been used twice, both during the closing days of World War II. The first event occurred on the morning of August 6, 1945, when the United States dropped uranium gun-type device code-named “Little Boy” on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The second event occurred three days later when a plutonium implosion-type device code-named “Fat Man” was dropped on the city of Nagasaki.

The use of these weapons, which resulted in the immediate deaths of around 100,000 to 200,000 individuals and even more over time, was and remains controversial critics charged that they were unnecessary acts of mass killing, while others claimed that they ultimately reduced casualties on both sides by hastening the end of the war. This topic has seen increased debate recently in the wake of increased terrorism involving killings of civilians by both state and non-state players, with parties claiming that the end justifies the means for a full discussion.

Since the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, nuclear weapons have been detonated on over two thousand occasions for testing and demonstration purposes. The only countries known to have detonated such weapons are the United States, Soviet Union, United Kingdom, France, and People’s Republic of China, India, and Pakistan.
These countries are the declared nuclear powers (with Russia inheriting the weapons of the Soviet Union after its collapse).Various other countries may hold nuclear weapons but have never publicly admitted possession, or their claims to possession have not been verified. For example, Israel has modern airborne delivery systems and appears to have an extensive nuclear program with hundreds of warheads, though it officially maintains a policy of “ambiguity” with respect to its actual possession of nuclear weapons. North Korea has
recently stated that it has nuclear capabilities (although it has made several changing statements about the abandonment of its nuclear weapons programs, often dependent on the political climate at the time) but has never conducted a confirmed test and its weapons status remains unclear.
Iran currently stands accused by a number of governments of attempting to develop nuclear capabilities, though its government claims that its acknowledged nuclear activities, such as uranium enrichment, are for peaceful purposes. South Africa also secretly developed a small nuclear arsenal, but disassembled it in the early 1990s. Apart from their use as weapons; nuclear explosives have been tested and used for various non-military uses.
The first nuclear weapons were created in the United States, by an international team including many displaced emigrant scientists from central Europe with assistance from the United Kingdom and Canada, during World War II as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project While the first weapons were developed primarily out of fear that Nazi Germany would develop them first, they were eventually used against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. The Soviet Union developed and tested their first nuclear weapon in 1949, based partially on information obtained from Soviet espionage in the United States. Both the U.S. and USSR would go on to develop weapons powered by nuclear fusion (hydrogen bombs) by the mid-1950s.
With the invention of reliable rocketry during the 1960s, it became possible for nuclear weapons to be delivered anywhere in the world on a very short notice, and the two Cold War superpowers adopted a strategy of deterrence to maintain a shaky peace.
Nuclear weapons were symbols of military and national power, and nuclear testing was often used both to test new designs as well as to send political messages. Other nations also developed nuclear weapons during this time, including the United Kingdom, France, and China. These five members of the “nuclear club” agreed to attempt to limit the spread of nuclear proliferation to other nations, though at least three other countries (India, South Africa, Pakistan, and most likely Israel) developed nuclear arms during this time. At the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, the Russian Federation inherited the weapons of the former USSR, and along with the U.S., pledged to reduce their stockpile for increased international safety.
Nuclear proliferation has continued, though, with Pakistan testing their first weapons in 1998, and North Korea claiming to have developed nuclear weapons in 2004. In January 2005, Pakistani metallurgist Abdul Qadeer Khan confessed to selling nuclear technology and information of nuclear weapons to Iran, Libya, and North Korea in a massive, international proliferation ring. Nuclear weapons have been at the heart of many national and international political disputes and have played a major part in popular culture since their dramatic public debut in the 1940s and have usually symbolized the ultimate ability of mankind to utilize the strength of nature for destruction.
There have been (at least) four major false alarms, the most recent in 1995, that almost resulted in the U.S. or USSR/Russia launching its weapons in retaliation for a supposed attack. Additionally, during the Cold War the U.S. and USSR came close to nuclear warfare several times, most notably during the Cuban Missile Crisis. As of 2005, there are estimated to be at least 29,000 nuclear weapons held by at least seven countries, 96 percent of them in the possession of the United States and Russia.
The environmental destruction that certain scientists contend would probably result from the hundreds of nuclear explosions in a nuclear war. The damaging effects of the light, heat, blast, and radiation caused by nuclear explosions had long been known to scientists, but such explosions’ indirect effects on the environment remained largely ignored for decades. In the 1970s, however, several studies posited that the layer of ozone in the stratosphere that shields living things from much of the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation might be depleted by the large amounts of nitrogen oxides produced by nuclear explosions.
Further studies speculated that large amounts of dust kicked up into the atmosphere by nuclear explosions might block sunlight from reaching the Earth’s surface, leading to a temporary cooling of the air. Scientists then began to take into account the smoke produced by vast forests set ablaze by nuclear fireballs, and in 1983 an ambitious study, known as the TTAPS study (from the initials of the last names of its authors, R.P.
Turco, O.B. Toon, T.P. Ackerman, J.B. Pollack, and Carl Sagan), took into consideration the crucial factor of smoke and soot arising from the burning petroleum
fuels and plastics in nuclear-devastated cities. (Smoke from such materials absorbs sunlight much more effectively than smoke from burning wood.) The TTAPS study coined the term “nuclear winter,” and its ominous hypotheses about the environmental effects of a nuclear war came under intensive study by both the American and Soviet scientific communities.The basic cause of nuclear winter, as hypothesized by researchers, would be the numerous and immense fireballs caused by exploding nuclear warheads. These fireballs would ignite huge uncontrolled fires (firestorms) over any and all cities and forests that were within range of them. Great plumes of smoke, soot, and dust would be sent aloft from these fires, lifted by their own heating to high altitudes where they could drift for weeks before dropping back or being washed out of the atmosphere onto the ground.
Several hundred million tons of this smoke and soot would be shepherded by strong westto-east winds until they would form a uniform belt of particles encircling the Northern Hemisphere from 30° to 60° latitude. These thick black clouds could block out all but a fraction of the Sun’s light for a period as long as several weeks. Surface temperatures would plunge for a few weeks as a consequence, perhaps by as much as 11° to 22° C (20° to 40° F). The conditions of semidarkness, killing frosts, and subfreezing temperatures, combined with high doses of radiation from nuclear fallout, would interrupt plant photosynthesis and could thus destroy much of the Earth’s vegetation and animal life. The extreme cold, high radiation levels, and the widespread destruction of industrial, medical, and transportation infrastructures along with food supplies and crops would trigger a massive death toll from starvation, exposure, and disease.
A nuclear war could thus reduce the Earth’s human population to a fraction of its previous numbers. A number of scientists have disputed the results of the original calculations and though such a nuclear war would undoubtedly be devastating, the degree of damage to life on Earth remains controversial. To stop and prevention of Nuclear Energy the United Nation General Assembly passed many resolutions on effects of that all nation who holds a strong nuclear energy have restrained to plummet it on any nation they want. And also Ban on tests which should affect peace of the nation. There are some treaties which expected to prevent Nuclear Explosion. These treaties as follows,
The Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT)
Ever since the use of atomic bomb in 1945, the nations of the world have been making efforts to control the nuclear arms race. The years from 1945-63 proved fruitless as all the efforts made in this direction were frustrated The first success in this regard wasachieved in August 1963 when U.K.,U.S.A. and USSR signed the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) also known as the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, inOuter Space and Under Water. The treaty was made open to all other states. In the preamble to the treaty, the signatory states proclaimed their aim as “the speediest achievement of an agreement on general and complete disarmament under strict international control in accordance with the objectives of the United Nations Which would put an end to the armament race and eliminate the incentive to the production and testing of all kinds of weapons, including nuclear weapons.” These states also expressed their determination to achieve discontinuance of all test explosions of nuclear weapons for all time and to put an end to the contamination of man’s environment by radioactive substances.
The main provisions of the treaty were as follows: The parties to the treaty undertook to prohibit, to prevent and not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions at any place under its jurisdiction or control, viz., in the atmosphere, beyond its limits, including outer space or under water, including territorial waters or high seas; or in any other environment if such explosion caused radioactive debris to be present outside the territorial limits of the State under whose jurisdiction or control such explosion is conducted.
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
The term ‘non-proliferation weapons’ came into general use around 1965. Initially it was used to cover the concept of dissemination (spread of nuclear weapons by the nuclear powers) and acquisition (manufacture or otherwise obtaining of nuclear weapons by non-nuclear powers). However, in course of time it also came to include further development, accumulation and development of nuclear weapons by the nuclear powers.
As noted above, the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 was designed by the superpowers to retain their monopoly in nuclear technology and to ensure their dominant position and they were certainly not interested in comprehensive test ban treaty and nuclear disarmament. However, countries like Ireland, India and Sweden continued to press for non-dissemination and non-acquisition of nuclear weapons. In the midst of these demands China exploded an atom bomb in October 1964, which obliged India to change its position and it began to lay more emphasis on the question of security. It began insisting that the question of nuclear disarmament by nuclear powers should also include an undertaking by non-nuclear powers not to acquire or manufacture nuclear weapons.
As a part of this integrated approach, India suggested at the U.N. Disarmament Commission in June, 1965 that:
The nuclear powers should give an undertaking not to transfer nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons technology to others.
They should undertake not to use nuclear weapons against countries which do not possess them.
They should give undertaking through the United Nations to safeguard the security of the countries which may be threatened by Power having a nuclear weapons capability or about to have a nuclear weapons capability.
The non-nuclear Powers should undertake not to acquire or manufacture weapon.
Tangible progress towards disarmament, including a comprehensive test ban treaty, a complete freeze on production of nuclear weapons and means of delivery, as well as substantial reduction in the existing stocks.
India stressed that it was unrealistic to ask the countries to foreswear forever a program of nuclear weapons production when the existing nuclear powers continued to hold on to their awesome arsenals. In June 1965, the Disarmament Commission of the United Nations adapted a resolution and called upon the Eighteen Nations Disarmament Conference (ENDC) to meet and accord special priority to the consideration of the question of a treaty or convention prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Accordingly on 17th August
1965, USA submitted a draft treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. A month later, on 24th September 1965 the Soviet Union submitted a draft for non-proliferation treaty to the General Assembly. Both these proposals did not find approval with each other. Ultimately due o efforts, of Soviet Foreign Ministry Andrei Gromyko and U.S.
Secretary of State Dean Rusk, compromise formula was arrived at and the two countries agreed to co-sponsor a Soviet draft resolution which appealed to all states to refrain from any action which might hamper the conclusion of the agreement and to take all the necessary steps for the earliest possible conclusion of the non-proliferation treaty for the security of all states—non-nuclear as well as nuclear. They also insisted that the nonproliferation treaty should not be linked to additional disarmament measures.
The joint draft treaty proposed by the United States and Soviet Union on 11th March 1968 was submitted to the General Assembly for its consideration. After detailed debate on the merits and shortcomings of the proposed treaty, the treaty was ultimately adopted by the General Assembly on 12th June 1968 by 95 to 4 votes, with 21 abstentions. In the final voting some of the members of the ENDC (such as Ethiopia, Nigeria and Sweden) though quite critical of certain provisions of the treaty, voted for it in the hope that this would pave the way further measures in the direction of improving the operation of the treaty and achieving further measures of disarmament.
The treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was simultaneously signed at London, Moscow and Washington on 1st July 1968 and actually came into force on 5th March 1970. In all the treaty contained eleven articles and an elaborate preamble.
Peaceful Nuclear Explosions (PNES)
The idea of using nuclear explosion for constructive purposes originated almost at the same time when the first test for nuclear weapons was made. In 1949, following an atom bomb explosion by Soviet Union, the Soviet Foreign Minister (Andrei Vishinsky) indicated the intension of his country to use the nuclear explosions for moving mountains excavating canals and roads. However his idea was not taken seriously by the world. The idea of peaceful uses of nuclear explosions received a further impetus in 1953 when President Eisenhower of USA in the course of his address to the United Nations proposed ‘Atoms for Peace’ plan. Between the years 1955 and 1971 four Conferences were held at Geneva in 1955, 1958, 1964 and 1971 on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy. In these conferences the main theme of discussion was potential of nuclear power and its possible uses for peaceful purposes. The Soviet representative (Andrei Vishinsky) clamed in the United Nations on 10th November 1949 that Soviet Union was using atomic energy for razing mountains, irrigating deserts, cutting through jungles and the Tundras.
At the international level the idea of peaceful nuclear explosions was for the first time brought up at the Second Conference on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in 1958 At the conference the American scientists outlined a number of potential peaceful uses for nuclear explosion. The idea was further developed at the next two Conferences held in 1964 and 1971. At the Third Conference on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in 1964 the two American Scientist G.W. Johnson and G.H. Higgins presented a paper “Engineering Applications of Nuclear Explosion Project Plowshare” in which they asserted that depending upon the nature, location and magnitude of the specific undertakings, the use of nuclear explosives can result in major savings in cost and may, in some cases, result in the recovery of petroleum products or mineral resources which would not otherwise be economically recoverable. They emphasised the need of continuous efforts for the development of technology, the demonstration of its capabilities and the recognition of its applicability to the solution of major problems of human welfare.
The US Congress on 8th December 2006 approved the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement, a prerequisite for implementation of the historic deal, which lifts a 32-year old ban on the export of American nuclear technology and fuel to India. The US had stopped nuclear cooperation with India after it conducted its first nuclear test in 1974. The agreement would allow the United States to share civilian nuclear technology with India. In return, India would agree to separate its 14 out of 22 nuclear facilities under international inspection between 2006 and 2004. Some of the US non-proliferation experts campaigned against the agreement, fearing that it would render a serious blow to the international non-proliferation regime as it opens the door of nuclear technology to India which is not a signatory to the nuclear NPT. These treaties serve their main idea to restrict on explosion of nuclear power. It helps International Legal Cole to play its role on wider prospective and will serve its all purposes.

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