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4 Mar, 2020 10:45

India & Pakistan officially becoming nuclear powers would spell 'disaster' for non-proliferation treaty – Moscow

India & Pakistan officially becoming nuclear powers would spell 'disaster' for non-proliferation treaty – Moscow

Extending the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on the entire world is generally a good idea, but an official recognition of India and Pakistan as nuclear powers is not – their accession to the pact would ruin it, Moscow warned.

"The fact that Pakistan, India and Israel – according to some estimates – possess nuclear weapons does not indeed help strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT]," Vladimir Yermakov, head of the Russian foreign ministry's arms control and non-proliferation department, told media on Wednesday.

At any rate, pushing India and Pakistan – two nuclear-armed neighbors and foes – towards joining the 1968 pact "would be disastrous for the treaty itself," the diplomat warned, without delving into details.

Arch-rivals for several decades, both Pakistan and India embarked on a race to build nuclear weapons in a bid to secure wartime superiority over one another. Almost a year ago, Islamabad and New Delhi reportedly put their nuclear arsenals on high alert when a series of cross-border airstrikes pushed them to the brink of an all-out war – until mutual diplomatic effort and good will defused that crisis.

Russia is willing to see the NPT cover the whole world, "but this is not always easy here," Yermakov pointed out. At least, he said, "both India and Pakistan have a generally positive attitude towards the NPT, while not being parties to this agreement."

Opened for signature in 1968, the treaty actually came into force in 1970 and was extended for an indefinite period of time in 1995. It specifically defines five nuclear-weapon states – the United States, Russia, the UK, France, and China – that have either built or tested a nuclear explosive device before January 1, 1967.

Since that time, the NPT remains the most universal strategic arms control treaty in history – and one of the most sustainable ones, given the fate of two milestone accords signed by the nuclear superpowers, the US and Russia.

One of them, the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) was buried by the US last year, when it quit the accord, citing vague allegations about Russia's non-compliance with it. Moscow opposed the move, arguing that torpedoing the pact – which outright banned the entire classes of short- and medium-range missiles – would not make the world any safer.

Another one, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (or New START), now hangs in the balance. Moscow and Washington signed the current edition of the accord back in 2010, agreeing to cut the number of warheads and their carriers following a series of tough negotiations.

Also on rt.com US has ‘no more excuses’ to avoid New START Treaty discussion as Russia is ready to renew it immediately – Russia’s FM Lavrov

The New START is due to expire in February 2021, but the US isn't inclined to keep the treaty going, it seems – although Moscow is openly signalling its readiness to prolong the pact without preliminary conditions.

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