1. Home
  2. Blog
  3. UPSC

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)

Why is it in the news?

  • Recently, Russia indicated that it might revoke its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
  • However, President Putin clarified that the intent is to maintain parity with the United States and not to resume nuclear testing.

About CTBT

  • CTBT is a multilateral treaty banning all nuclear explosions, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1996, but it is still in the ratification stage with 18 countries yet to ratify.
  • It also establishes a CTBT Organization (CTBTO), located in Vienna, to ensure the implementation of its provisions.
  • The treaty was prompted by the decades-long nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union, resulting in over 2,000 nuclear tests from 1945 to 1996.
  • Efforts to limit nuclear testing included the Limited Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (LTBT) in 1963 and the Threshold Test Ban Treaty (TTBT) in 1974, but neither fully banned all nuclear tests.
  • The CTBT was adopted in 1996 after the Cold War ended, imposing a comprehensive ban on explosive nuclear testing.
  • Despite the CTBT, nuclear tests continued, with India, Pakistan, and North Korea conducting tests post-1996. The United States, China, and France last tested in 1992 or 1996, and Russia never conducted a nuclear test post-Soviet era.
  • To enter into force, the CTBT requires ratification by 44 specific nuclear technology holder countries, with eight key countries yet to ratify: China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and the United States.
  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged these remaining countries to ratify the CTBT in 2021 to facilitate its entry into force.
CTBT and India

India’s historical perspective on CTBT

  • India’s interest in nuclear disarmament dates back to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s call for a nuclear test ban in 1954.
  • Despite early efforts, the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) in 1963 did not curb nuclear testing effectively.
  • Security concerns, including China’s nuclear tests and conflicts with Pakistan, led India to conduct a peaceful nuclear test in 1974.

Continued support for Test-Ban Policy

  • India maintained its support for a nuclear test-ban policy, as evidenced by calls for a ban on nuclear weapons testing at the UN General Assembly in 1978 and a freeze on nuclear weapons production in 1982.
  • In 1988, India proposed an Action Plan advocating a time-bound nuclear disarmament framework.


Challenges and Shifts in Policy

  • India’s efforts toward a test-ban treaty faced challenges in 1995 with the indefinite extension of the Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which India saw as unequal and lacking nuclear disarmament
  • India conducted nuclear tests in 1998 due to security concerns and the lack of progress on disarmament.
  • After the 1998 tests, India expressed flexibility on the CTBT and willingness to formalize its moratorium on future testing.
  • India emphasized the need for reciprocal actions from the P5 nations, including refraining from tests under safety pretexts and preventing proliferation.
  • India’s stance on nuclear disarmament also extends to discussions on Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT), which would prohibit the production of nuclear weapons components.

 Reasons for not joining CTBT

  • Principled opposition rooted in India’s commitment to universal nuclear disarmament.
  • Concerns about the unequal nature of the NPT and lack of firm commitments from nuclear-armed states.
  • Security concerns, including China and Pakistan’s nuclear activities and the potential for nuclear collusion.
  • Domestic political considerations, particularly during the 1996 general elections.
  • Concerns about the CTBT potentially hindering India’s strategic nuclear program.

 Gains for India by signing CTBT

  • Signing the CTBT would enhance India’s global stature and strengthen its case for membership in international nuclear groupings like the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
  • India’s adherence to CTBT would exceed the actions of some NPT weapon states.

 Importance of CTBT

  • The CTBT serves as a barrier to developing and improving nuclear weapons.
  • It provides a legally binding norm against nuclear testing and prevents human suffering and environmental damage.

 Way Forward

  • India has upheld a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing since 1998, demonstrating political consensus on its position.
  • Embracing the CTBT could fortify India’s role as a global leader without resorting to military or economic displays of power.

Get free UPSC Updates straight to your inbox!

Get Updates on New Notification about APPSC, TSPSC and UPSC

Get Current Affairs Updates Directly into your Inbox

Discover more from AMIGOS IAS

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading