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Global Nuclear Order, Key Elements, Significance, Impacts

Context: Recent shifts in global politics and strained US-Russia relations have weakened Cold War treaties, challenging the global nuclear order (GNO).

About Global Nuclear Order (GNO)

The Global Nuclear Order (GNO) was established in response to the heightened tensions and near-nuclear conflict during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. This led both nations to recognize the need for mechanisms to prevent such escalations in the future and to control the spread of nuclear weapons.

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Key Elements of the Global Nuclear Order (GNO)

  • Hotline For Direct Communication: The first step was establishing a direct line of communication, known as the hotline, in 1963. This was aimed at enabling direct dialogue between the leaders of the U.S. and the USSR to manage crises and reduce nuclear risks. This hotline was later upgraded into nuclear risk reduction centres.
  • Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT): In 1965, the U.S. and USSR initiated multilateral negotiations to control the spread of nuclear weapons.
    • This led to the NPT in 1968, which started with less than 60 parties and has now expanded to 191 signatories.
    • It is considered the cornerstone of the global nuclear order, aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons while promoting peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
  • Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG): Established in 1975, initially known as the London Club, this group was a response to India’s underground peaceful nuclear explosive in 1974. The NSG, consisting of 48 countries today, sets guidelines for exporting nuclear and related dual-use materials, equipment, and technologies to ensure that they are not used for nuclear explosive purposes.

Significance Of Global Nuclear Order

  • The GNO’s significance lies in its success in maintaining a taboo against the use of nuclear weapons since 1945 and effectively controlling nuclear proliferation.
  • Despite initial fears of widespread nuclear armament, only four countries (India, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan) have developed nuclear capabilities beyond the original five nuclear-armed states (U.S., USSR/Russia, U.K., France, and China). Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan which hosted Soviet nuclear weapons were denuclearized.
  • Furthermore, the GNO facilitated strategic stability through arms control negotiations, parity in strategic capacities, and crisis management stability, contributing to a reduction in nuclear arsenals and preventing nuclear conflict during the Cold War.

Changing Geopolitical Scenario Negatively Impacting GNO

  • China’s Military Expansion: China has significantly enhanced its naval and missile strength.
  • Doubts Over U.S. Security Commitments: There’s growing uncertainty about the reliability of U.S. nuclear protection, particularly for East Asian allies like Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. This uncertainty might lead to U.S. support for these nations developing their own nuclear deterrents against China.
  • S. Exiting Key Nuclear Agreements: The U.S. has exited several important nuclear treaties, the ABM Treaty in 2002, the INF Treaty in 2019, and the New START treaty is set to expire in 2026.
    • Russia’s recent withdrawal from the CTBT has also heightened fears of renewed nuclear testing.
  • Tolerance of Nuclear Development: The U.S. did not overtly respond to nuclear developments in Israel and Pakistan.
    • The recent AUKUS agreement, involving nuclear submarine technology transfer to Australia, a non-nuclear weapon state, has sparked global apprehension.
  • Japan Rethinking Its Defence Posture: Japan is reevaluating its traditionally anti-nuclear stance, as evidenced by its plans to significantly boost its defence budget.

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