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UPSC EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : The global nuclear order is under strain


Source: The Hindu

  • Prelims: Current events of international importance, Important International Institutes, GNO, spy satellites, cold war, SIPRI’s annual report, Nuclear Disarmament agreements.
  • Mains GS Paper II: Significance of Important International Institutes, Significance of nuclear disarmament.


  • North Korea will launch three additional military spy satellites, build more nuclear weapons and introduce modern unmanned combat equipment in 2024




Global nuclear order(GNO):

  • It was created in the shadow of the Cold War, with the S. and the U.S.S.R., leading the western and the Socialist blocs, respectively.


Need for GNO:

  • Two nuclear superpowers needed bilateral mechanisms to prevent tensions from escalating to the nuclear level.
  • Nuclear weapons are dangerous and, therefore, their spread should be curbed.
    • This convergence created the GNO.


Conditions required to gain power legitimacy:

  • A convergence among the major powers of the day
  • Successfully presenting the outcome as a global public good to the rest of the world.


Bilateral measures between US and USSR for GNO:

  • Hotline established in 1963, to enable the leaders to communicate directly.
    • The hotline (later upgraded into nuclear risk reduction centers)
  • Arms control negotiations as the two nuclear superpowers sought to manage their nuclear arms race and maintain strategic stability.
  • To control proliferation, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. initiated multilateral negotiations in Geneva in 1965 on a treaty to curb the spread of nuclear weapons.
  • The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) opened for signature.
    • India had chosen not to sign the NPT
    • In 1974 India conducted an underground peaceful nuclear explosive, or PNE.

Positive impact of GNO:

  • The taboo against nuclear weapons has been held since 1945.
    • The U.S.-USSR arms control process helped preserve the taboo
    • Humanity has survived 75 years of the nuclear age without blowing itself up.
  • Non-proliferation has been a success: Despite dire predictions of more than 20 countries possessing nuclear weapons by the 1970s
    • Only four countries have since gone nuclear, e., India, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan.
  • Even after the Cold War ended, non-proliferation remained a shared objective
  • Russia and USA cooperated to ensure that Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan that hosted Soviet nuclear weapons and possessed some capabilities, were denuclearized.

Response to India’s Nuclear Test:

  • Seven countries (the U.S., U.S.S.R, U.K., Canada, France, Japan, and West Germany) held a series of meetings in London
  • Ad hoc export controls were urgently needed to ensure that nuclear technology, transferred for peaceful purposes, not be used for PNEs.
  • Though the Soviet Union and India had signed the Indo-Soviet Friendship Treaty in 1971
    • The USSR was committed to upholding the GNO, and a founding member of the London Club.

Nuclear Suppliers Group(NSG):

  • The London Club later transformed into the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
  • It consists of 48 countries today
  • They observe common guidelines for exporting nuclear and related dual-use materials, equipment, and technologies.

Nuclear Race:

  • Arms control did not end the U.S.-U.S.S.R. nuclear race
  • Their arsenals grew from 28,000 bombs in 1962 to over 65,000 bombs in the early 1980s.
  • Since the late 1980s, the U.S. and Soviet arsenals have declined sharply, to below 12,000 bombs today

What are the concerns?

  • In 2002, the U.S. withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.
    • In 2019, from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty on grounds that Russia was violating it.
  • The remaining agreement, New START, will lapse in 2026
  • Russia de-ratified the CTBT to bring it on a par with the U.S
    • Raising concerns about the resumption of nuclear testing.

Why is the US-China rivalry different from the cold war?

  • The U.S. faces a more assertive China, determined to regain influence, regionally and globally.
  • Both economies are closely intertwined
  • China is an economic and technological peer rival.
  • China has resented the U.S.’s naval presence in the South China and East China Seas
  • Since the last Taiwan Strait crisis in 1996.
    • It has steadily built up its naval and missile capabilities.


Way Forward

  • The two nuclear hegemons shared a notion of ‘strategic stability’ based on assured second strike capability, guaranteed by the enormous arsenals that both had built up.
  • The U.S. is facing a new situation of two nuclear peer rivals who are exploring new roles for more usable weapons.
  • Russian nuclear saber rattling to warn the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the U.S. against escalation in Ukraine has revived nuclear concerns.
  • Nuclear weapons technology is a 75-year-old technology:The U.S. has always had a pragmatic streak shaping its policy approaches.
  • The recent nuclear submarine AUKUS deal (Australia, U.S., U.K.) with Australia, a non-nuclear weapon state, is raising concerns in the NPT community.
  • Recent opinion polls indicate a 70% support for developing a national nuclear deterrent and 40% for reintroducing U.S. nuclear weapons (withdrawn in 1991) on its territory.



The expansion and strengthening of NATO and a stronger US-Europe strategic partnership works well in India.’ What is your opinion about this statement? Give reasons and examples to support your answer.(UPSC 2023) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)