Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

  • It is an independent, autonomous international organisation with a working relationship with the UN.
  • It is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997.
  • It has 193 Member States working together to achieve a world free of chemical weapons.
  • HQ – The Hague, Netherlands
  • It was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 2013.
  • Until now, OPCW could only say whether chemical weapons were used but not who had used them.
  • It has been recently granted additional powers by its members voting in two-third majority which allows it to assign blame for attacks.
  • This process of extending its jurisdiction was heavily opposed by Russia.
  • But, Britain was supporting the move arguing that new powers were needed to deal with repeated chemical attacks in Syria.

Chemical Weapons Convention

  • It aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by States Parties.
  • Israel has signed but not ratified the agreement.
  • Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan have neither signed nor acceded to the treaty.
  • The convention has provisions for systematic evaluation of chemical production facilities, as well as for investigations of allegations of use and production of chemical weapons based on intelligence of other state parties.
  • Some chemicals which have been used extensively in warfare but have numerous large-scale industrial uses such as phosgene are highly regulated.
  • Chlorine gas is highly toxic, but being widely used for peaceful purposes, is not officially listed as a chemical weapon.
  • Other chemicals, such as white phosphorous, are highly toxic but are legal under the CWC when they are used by military forces for reasons other than their toxicity.
  • Chemicals have few or no uses outside chemical weapons may be produced or used for research, medical, pharmaceutical or chemical weapon defence testing purposes but production above 100 grams per year must be declared to the CWC.
  • A country is limited to possessing a maximum of 1 tonne of these materials.
  • Examples are sulfur mustard and nerve agents.
  • Chemicals which have legitimate small-scale applications can be manufactured must be declared and there are restrictions on export to countries that are not CWC signatories. e.g Thiodiglycol which can be used in the manufacture of mustard agents, but is also used as a solvent in inks.
  • As a signatory, India enacted Chemical Weapons Convention Act in 2000.
  • It defines chemical weapons and empowers the Centre to set up a National Authority.
  • It defines chemical weapons as toxic chemicals, including munitions and devices, specifically designed to cause death or other harm.

UN Disarmament Commission

  • It is a subsidiary organ of UN General Assembly, created in 1978.
  • It is composed of all UN member states.
  • It reports annually to General Assembly.
  • It was created as a deliberative body, with the function of considering and making recommendations on various issues in the field of disarmament.
  • Its mandate is to prepare proposals for a treaty for the regulation, limitation and balanced reduction of all armed forces and all armaments, including the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction.
  • The UNDC is serviced substantively by the Office for Disarmament Affairs and technically by the Department of General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services.
  • The United Nations disarmament chief made a statement about disarming North Korea recently.

Conference on Disarmament

  • It is the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community.
  • Though it includes practically all multilateral arms control and disarmament problems, it focuses on nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament.
  • India recognizes CD as the single multilateral disarmament negotiation forum and discards any other forum.

Nuclear Suppliers Group

  • It is a voluntary, non-legally binding export control regime.
  • Originally called “London Club”, it was founded in response to the Indian nuclear test in 1974.
  • It is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of two sets of Guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports.
  • According to this, a supplier authorizes a transfer only when satisfied that the transfer would not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
  • It has 48 members with European Commission and the Chair of Zangger Committee as observers.
  • After India U.S Civil Nuclear Agreement, India has been trying to become a member. But its membership has been blocked by China.

A) India-US Civil Nuclear Deal 2005

  • It recognised India as a nuclear weapons power.
  • It emphasised on non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
  • Even though India did not officially join NPT, this agreement afforded the same benefits as other leading nuclear powers like civilian space programmes, high-technology trade, and missile defence.
  • It included separation of civilian and military nuclear facilities and brining civilian nuclear facilities under the IAEA safeguards.

Wassenaar Arrangement

  • It promotes transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies.
  • It came into being in 1996 to succeed the Cold War-era Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls.
  • It has 42 members and with the exception of China, all the other permanent UNSC members are signatories.
  • India has been admitted as the 42nd member, which will strengthen India’s credentials as a responsible nuclear power.
  • The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies is a multilateral export control regime (MECR) with 42 participating states including many former Comecon (Warsaw Pact) countries.
  • The Wassenaar Arrangement was established to contribute to regional and international security and stability by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilizing accumulations. Participating states seek, through their national policies, to ensure that transfers of these items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities which undermine these goals, and are not diverted to support such capabilities.

Missile Technology Control Regime

  • It was established in 1987 by Japan.
  • It aims to limit the spread of ballistic missiles and other unmanned delivery systems that could be used for chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks.
  • It has 35 members, which include most of the world’s key missile manufacturers, including India.
  • It seeks to restrict the exports of missiles and related technologies of any type of weapon of mass destruction.
  • The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is a multilateral export control regime. It is an informal political understanding among 35 member states that seek to limit the proliferation of missiles and missile technology. The regime was formed in 1987 by the G-7 industrialized countries. The MTCR seeks to limit the risks of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by controlling exports of goods and technologies that could make a contribution to delivery systems (other than manned aircraft) for such weapons. In this context, the MTCR places particular focus on rockets and unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering a payload of at least 500 kg (1,100 lb) to a range of at least 300 km (190 miles) and on equipment, software, and technology for such systems.
  • The MTCR is not a treaty and does not impose any legally binding obligations on Partners (members). Rather, it is an informal political understanding among states that seek to limit the proliferation of missiles and missile technology

Australia Group

  • It seeks to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical or biological weapons.
  • It has 43 members including India.
  • China is not a member 0f AG nor of MTCR nor Wassenaar Arrangement.
  • Delegations representing the countries meet every year in Paris.
  • The Australia Group is a multilateral export control regime (MECR) and an informal group of countries (now joined by the European Commission) established in 1985 (after the use of chemical weapons by Iraq in 1984) to help member countries to identify those exports which need to be controlled so as not to contribute to the spread of chemical and biological weapons.[1]
  • The group, initially consisting of 15 members, held its first meeting in Brussels, Belgium, in September 1989. With the incorporation of India on January 19, 2018, it now has 43 members,[2] including Australia, the European Commission, all 28 member states of the European Union, the United States, India, Ukraine, and Argentina. The name comes from Australia’s initiative to create the group. Australia manages the secretariat.

Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

  • The treaty was signed in the year 1987 between United States and the then Soviet Union.
  • The treaty prohibited land-based cruise or ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km. It did not cover air- or sea-launched weapons,
  • The treaty marked the first time the superpowers had agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenal & eliminate entire category of nuclear weapons.
  • In 2014, US has alleged that Russia violated the treaty and it has deployed the non-compliant missile.
  • Recently, US announced its withdrawal from the treaty. USA Congress approval for the same is yet to be taken.

Biological Weapons Convention

  • The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (usually referred to as the Biological Weapons Convention, abbreviation: BWC, was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the production of an entire category of weapons.
  • The Convention was the result of prolonged efforts by the international community to establish a new instrument that would supplement the 1925 Geneva Protocol.
  • The Geneva Protocol prohibits use but not possession or development of chemical and biological weapons.
  • It commits the 183 states which are party to it as of August 2019 to prohibit the development, production, and stockpiling of biological and toxin weapons.
  • However, the absence of any formal verification regime to monitor compliance has limited the effectiveness of the Convention. An additional five states have signed the BWC but have yet to ratify the treaty.
  • The scope of the BWC’s prohibition includes all microbial and other biological agents or toxins and their means of delivery (with exceptions for medical and defensive purposes in small quantities
  • Permitted purposes under the BWC are defined as prophylactic, protective and other peaceful purposes.


The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT,

  • It is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.
  • Between 1965 and 1968, the treaty was negotiated by the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament, a United Nations-sponsored organization based in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Opened for signature in 1968, the treaty entered into force in 1970. As required by the text, after twenty-five years, NPT Parties met in May 1995 and agreed to extend the treaty indefinitely.
  • More countries have adhered to the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement.
  • As of August 2016, 191 states have adhered to the treaty, though North Korea, which acceded in 1985 but never came into compliance, announced its withdrawal from the NPT in 2003, following detonation of nuclear devices in violation of core obligations.
  • Four UN member states have never accepted the NPT, three of which possess nuclear weapons: India, Israel, and Pakistan. In addition, South Sudan, founded in 2011, has not joined.
  • The NPT is often seen to be based on a central bargain:
  1. The NPT non-nuclear-weapon states agree never to acquire nuclear weapons and
  2. The NPT nuclear-weapon states in exchange agree to share the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology and to pursue nuclear disarmament aimed at the ultimate elimination of their nuclear arsenals.
  • The treaty is reviewed every five years in meetings called Review Conferences of the Parties to the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
  • Several additional measures have been adopted to strengthen the NPT and the broader nuclear nonproliferation regime including the export controls of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the enhanced verification measures of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol.

The treaty is interpreted as a three-pillar system, with an implicit balance among them:

  1. non-proliferation,
  2. disarmament, and
  3. The right to peacefully use nuclear technology.

A) Criticism

  • Failure of the NPT-recognized nuclear weapon states to disarm themselves of nuclear weapons, especially in the post–Cold War era, has angered some non-nuclear-weapon NPT signatories of the NPT. Such failureprovides justification for the non-nuclear-weapon signatories to quit the NPT and develop their own nuclear arsenals
  • The linkage between proliferation and disarmament may also work the other way, i.e., that the failure to resolve proliferation threats in Iran and North Korea, for instance, will cripple the prospects for disarmament
  • the very progress of disarmament by the superpowers—which has led to the elimination of thousands of weapons and delivery systems could eventually make the possession of nuclear weapons more attractive by increasing the perceived strategic value of a small arsenal.
  • India argues that the NPT creates a club of “nuclear haves” and a larger group of “nuclear have-nots” by restricting the legal possession of nuclear weapons to those states that tested them before 1967, but the treaty never explains on what ethical grounds such a distinction is valid.
  • NPT acts as a flawed treaty and it does not recognize the need for universal, non-discriminatory verification and treatment.

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