Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) requests for prohibition of all forms of nuclear tests. Many international experts consider it as a second serious step to control nuclear proliferation after nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The idea to ban nuclear test was passed in ninth session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1954, thirteen years before NPT was enforced and it is on UNGA agenda since 1957.
The idea of banning nuclear test flourished over the years, however, nuclear weapon states kept on improving and testing their arsenals. In 1963, Soviet Union tested 50 megaton Hydrogen Bomb. The health problems because of nuclear weapon tests in atmosphere forced nations to sign the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT).
Underground tests were still carried out by NPT signatory nuclear states until early 1990s. In early 1990 most of developed countries established computer-based techniques that could help them to calculate success and yield of nuclear weapons by simulating the whole test.
In 1996, major nuclear powers started working on a draft of CTBT and many nations were ready to sign it but a real turning point was when the US senate rejected it in 1999. Since then many international scholars have called it a dead horse.
Pakistan and India are not signatories of NPT but have nuclear weapons. In past Pakistan was an advocate of Nuclear disarmament and participated in several conferences from 1984 to 1986 to achieve nuclear disarmament through a nuclear test ban treaty. In 1987, it proposed a regional Nuclear Weapons Free Zone for South Asia but it was rejected by India. In 1996, Pakistan voted in favour of CTBT but India voted against it. In May 1998, India tested its nuclear devices and forced Pakistan to follow suit.
In May 1998, India tested its nuclear devices and forced Pakistan to follow suit. In 1998 the discussion to sign CTBT was at peak and Pakistan showed its willingness to sign CTBT, with a condition that if India would reciprocate and the sanctions put on the country would be lifted away. In 1999, President Musharraf said that the objective of CTBT can only be achieved if there is coercion free environment in South Asia. After formation of Command and Control structure, Pakistan issued a statement showing that it believes in “minimum credible deterrence.” Later in 2001, Pakistan proposed strategic restraint regime in South Asia in which once again there was a suggestion of bilateral suspension of nuclear tests and it was rejected by India. In 2003, Pakistan was pressurized to disarm unilaterally but it was rejected on the basis of its security concerns.
It is important to note here that nuclear-free zone in South Asia has been suggested many times by Pakistan but each time India rejected it.
Pakistan however, has now changed its stance on disarmament and is working towards full fledge deterrence. Several international reports are showing that Pakistan has more nuclear weapons as compared to India. India is conventionally superior and the present Indian nuclear doctrine of second strike capability and no first use is just because of Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons. If Pakistan gives up its nuclear weapons the chance of conventional attack by India will be much more.
Presently, CTBT is not at top priority in international nuclear politics, so it cannot be expected that it will be signed and ratified soon by all major powers. However, India and Pakistan have to design their policy about future tests. The existing deterrence in South Asia does not require any more tests as well. Both India and Pakistan are aware of each other’s nuclear capabilities and the whole world knows that both have nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons have no formal role in warfare. Mao called these weapons are “paper tigers” and their increasing number have no connection with the strength of defence.
Moreover, both countries have more threats from internal enemy rather than each other or external enemy. The internal enemy can be handled only with conventional capability. So, it is necessary to modernize their forces rather than spending too much on increasing and testing their nuclear arsenals.