2016 has been quite a gut-wrenching year for so many people. From the sheer number of deaths to beloved celebrities, to the 2016 UK ‘EU Referendum’ most commonly known as ‘Brexit,’ and to the recent US Presidential election, in which it’ll be Donald Trump taking reigns of arguably the most powerful nation on this planet. Throughout the year there have been numerous reports of North Korea, and their advancements in Nuclear Power, most specifically in the weapons department. I mean, for such a relatively closed off nation, how advanced is it? We keep seeing reports from various MSM outlets that Kim Jong Un has tested a ‘Hydrogen bomb’ but just how much can we truly believe reports like this? I suppose nations have to take this as solid truth that rogue nations are building up an arsenal of nuclear weapons. Who gives the right to disallow the likes of North Korea, Israel and Pakistan the abilities to develop Nukes, but nations such as the UK, US and Russia allowed to develop them for ‘a deterrence?’ Is it just a matter of racism, on the basis that Westerners are more advanced than those in the East? Or is it simply because the Arsenal size that the US, Russia, France, the UK and China possess could already destroy everything on this planet, twice over, and that the time and money spent on developing these weapons could be used to actually help the earth out. That is essentially the main focus of Nuclear Nonproliferation. To prevent the spread of Nuclear Weapons, and for nations to come together, for the greater good of all life on earth and to make life a brighter place for the future generations.
In recent years we have seen an increase in nuclear nonproliferation efforts. In 2010, the US and Russia came together, to create a treaty of the basis of Nuclear disarmament. New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, reduced the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers of the US and Russia by half. 700 ICBMs deployed, 1550 warheads deployed to ICBMs and 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers. Whilst this is still a rather large amount of weaponry, it was a reduction from previous years. New START numbers, released in October 2015 say that the US currently has 762 Strategic Delivery Vehicles (SDVs) whereas Russia has 526. Now that may seem bad on the US’ part, the treaty doesn’t truly come into effect until 2018. On the other hand, the US currently has 1538 deployed warheads, whereas Russia has 1648, but there’s still time for both nations to bring them down to the 2018 limit.
Obama also initiated the NSS Summits of 2010, 2012 and 2014. The Nuclear Security Summits were setup so that nations could devise strategies in improving the security of nuclear materials, such as reduce Highly Enriched Uranium and plutonium. 53 nations participated in the summits, and 12 of 22 participating countries that had HEU no longer have those materials. According to a new study released by the Arms Control Association, President Obama had struggled to make progress in key nuclear disarmament during his second term, but he did gain important traction in the security of nuclear materials, as seen with the The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or most commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal.
What you can see from this table is how the ACA have ranked the Nuclear Weapon States in terms of security, and Nonproliferation efforts. Whilst the UK excels in the banning on nuclear testing, nuclear force reductions is an area in which it struggles. I suppose that’s what happens when you spend £31 Billion on upgrading missiles instead of putting that money into the NHS, but that’s none of my business of course. Let’s compare this table with the NPT states.
When looking at page thirteen of the Arms Control Associations 2016 Report card, you see that Iran, which isn’t part of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), gets relatively good grading, in terms of the banning on nuclear testing, nuclear weapons free zones and criminalisation and illicit trafficking commitments. As you can see, the three NPT states are given relatively fair scores in regards to their nuclear ambitions, where as the DPRK, Iran and Syria are quite some way away from good ratings.
India developed a nuclear arsenal outside the NPT, carrying out its first nuclear test in 1974. India formally declared itself a nuclear-weapon state after further tests were completed in May 1998. India pledged in July 2005 to adhere to Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) guidelines as part of a proposed U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation agreement and has repeatedly attempted to join both bodies. Also during the 2010 nuclear security summit, India pledged to create a Nuclear Energy Center, that would create a nuclear security component. India maintains a policy of the ‘non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states.’
Israel is widely believed to possess an ‘undeclared nuclear arsenal of approximately 80 nuclear weapons.’ Though when nations attend nuclear summits, they tend not to confirm nor deny the existence of such weapons. Whilst they do support the banning of nuclear testing, they don’t support the ending of fissile material, which kind of tells you that they do have these weapons, unless they’re building the Ford Nucleon again, which is highly doubtful. They’re also not in favour of reducing nuclear force, so they’re obviously building weapons, or at least thinking about it.
Pakistan chose not to join the NPT and began developing nuclear weapons in the early 1970s. As nuclear suppliers began to oppose transfers of sensitive nuclear technologies to the country, Pakistan relied heavily on the smuggling of nuclear materials, on the black market. Pakistan, an Annex 2 state, has not signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT,) but continues to maintain that Islamabad will not be the first country in the region to resume testing. A 2015 report estimated that Pakistan has a stockpile of around 190 kilograms of separated plutonium, which was actually a 65 kilogram increase from the previous version of that report, which shows that they’re not really a fan of ending fissile production, maybe they’re planning on running the country on nuclear powers, who knows.
Arms Control Assosciation: 2016 Report Card on Nuclear Disarmament, Nuclear Nonproliferation Efforts https://www.armscontrol.org/reports/2016-Report-Card-Nuclear-Disarmament-Nonproliferation-Efforts
BBC News: North Korea’s nuclear programme: How advanced is it?
The Telegraph: North Korea claims successful ‘hydrogen bomb’ test, world reacts with condemnation and suspicion
US Department of State: Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) http://www.state.gov/t/isn/trty/16281.htm