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Nehru’s Vision on Nuclear Disarmament UPSC NOTE


  • Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru made a speech in the Lok Sabha that would put India on the global stage of nuclear disarmament 

  • With this speech, he cemented India’s claim to leadership, gave impetus to calls that eventually yielded the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT), and arguably limited horizontal nuclear proliferation(the spread of nuclear weapons to entities (countries or terrorist groups) not currently possessing nuclear weapons)  by insisting on treating nuclear weapons as beyond the pale.

  • Nehru called for “a standstill agreement” on nuclear testing

  • A standstill agreement was an agreement signed between the newly independent dominions of India and Pakistan and the princely states of the British Indian Empire prior to their integration in the new dominions. The form of the agreement was bilateral between a dominion and a princely state.

  • The standstill agreement is remarkable for its willingness to accept an incremental approach to what was fast becoming an insurmountable problem of disarmament against the backdrop of the Cold War. 

  • The four elements of the proposal called for 

    • an immediate moratorium on testing

    • urged the United Nations Disarmament Commission to address both the immediate moratorium and the longer-term goal of prohibiting the production and stockpiling of nuclear weapons

    • sought to build public pressure on nuclear states by calling for greater disclosure on the destructiveness and effects of the weapons

    • called on all ‘states and peoples of the world’ to recognise the global threat posed by nuclear weapons. 

  • India had effectively put the nuclear weapons states on notice. 

  • Nehru was asking them to not only recognise that their tests were imperilling the globe but also calling for more information on the effects of nuclear tests and radiation to exert global pressure on them to disarm. 

  • India followed this up with interventions at the UN, including a draft resolution in 1955 calling for a halt to testing, and progress to be reported to the Disarmament Commission. 

  • Simultaneously, Nehru convened a conference of scientists to study atomic energy and the effects of nuclear explosions in 1954

  • Nehru spoke the language of disarmament because India had pressing development needs for its scarce resources that might be swallowed up by an arms race. 

  • But The Atomic Energy Act, 1948 allowed for the sequestration of the nuclear programme to shield any potential weapons development, should the need arise. 

  • Homi Bhabha, the father of India’s nuclear programme, wanted to develop nuclear weapons. Nehru did not give the go-ahead, but did not entirely discourage him either.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Nehru’s Vision on Nuclear Disarmament UPSC NOTE
Nehru’s Vision on Nuclear Disarmament UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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