Jurisprudence for the use of Nuclear weapons



    In the past few days there has been much talk (and considerable apprehension) about the use of nuclear weapons as a result of the Ukraine conflict.

    About Nuclear weapons 

    • They are the most dangerous weapons on earth and they can destroy a whole city, potentially killing millions, and jeopardising the natural environment and lives of future generations through its long-term catastrophic effects. 
    • Instance of Usage : Although nuclear weapons have only been used twice in warfare—in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945—about 13,400 reportedly remain in our world today and there have been over 2,000 nuclear tests conducted to date.  

    Issues linked to Nuclear weapons

    • Nuclear weapons cause catastrophic harm and unleashing nuclear weapons will lead to large scale loss of innocent lives and non-combatants which is ethical unacceptable even in times of war
    • Nuclear weapons carry huge proliferation risks
    • Deterrence via nuclear weapons lacks credibility 
    • The radioactive fallout from nuclear processes is detrimental to the environment and affects nations across borders.
    • Disarmament is the best protection against such dangers, but achieving this goal has been a tremendously difficult challenge.

    International jurisprudence

    • Regional Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones (NWFZ) have been established to strengthen global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament norms and consolidate international efforts towards peace and security.
    • The United Nations has sought to eliminate such weapons ever since its establishment and its Secretariat supports efforts aimed at the non-proliferation and total elimination of nuclear weapons. “Securing Our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament” considers nuclear weapons in the framework of “disarmament to save humanity.”
      •  The first resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1946 established a Commission to deal with problems related to the discovery of atomic energy among others. 
        • The resolution also decided that the Commission should make proposals for “the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and of all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction.”
    • A number of multilateral treaties have since been established with the aim of preventing nuclear proliferation and testing, while promoting progress in nuclear disarmament. 
      • These include the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests In The Atmosphere, In Outer Space And Under Water, also known as the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT), the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)
      •  Other initiatives:  the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, and the Wassenaar Arrangement.
    • The General Assembly commemorates 26 September as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
    • Nearly 30 years ago the International Court of Justice was requested by the UN for an Advisory Opinion “as to whether the threat or use of Nuclear Weapons in any circumstance was permitted under International law”.
      • In the end, a majority of 12 out of 15 judges said “that humanitarian law has to be read subject to an exception viz. that it permitted a State to use Nuclear Weapons in self defence when its survival was at stake, even where such use would otherwise be a breach of humanitarian law.

    the general attitude among countries about existing nuclear and arms related treaties

    • The leaders of the P5 countries (China, France, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S.) issued a joint statement affirming the belief that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”. 
      • The joint statement also highlighted their seemingly collective belief that bilateral and multilateral arms control agreements and commitments were indeed important

    India’s nuclear  doctrine 

    • It is a manifestation of its past ideology which  has been reflected both in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata when the use of weapons of mass destruction was prohibited.
    • India is a responsible nuclear weapon State and is committed as per its nuclear doctrine, to maintain credible, minimum deterrence with the posture of no-first use and non-use against non-nuclear weapon States.
    • India’s proposal for a step-by-step approach for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, contained in its Working Paper submitted to the Conference on Disarmament in 2007, calls on the Conference on Disarmament to negotiate a Comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention.
    • India supports the full and effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and emphasises the strengthening of the OPCW to fulfil its important mandate.
    • India participated in the Nuclear Security Summit process and has regularly participated in the International Conferences on Nuclear Security organised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). 
      • India is also a member of the Nuclear Security Contact Group.

    Conclusion and Way ahead 

    • There is a need for the international community to pay closer attention to the illicit proliferation of networks of nuclear weapons, their delivery systems, components and relevant technologies
    • All the nations of the world – nuclear and non-nuclear – must join together to establish a regime of a nuclear-free world. 
    • India is firmly committed to the goal of universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament. 
    •  India is cognizant of the need for enhanced international cooperation and for promotion of peaceful uses of science and technology through technology transfer, sharing of information and exchange of equipment and materials.


    Mains Practice Question

    [Q ] India’s doctrine of nuclear policy is a manifestation of its past ideology that prohibits the use of weapons of mass destruction.Comment