July 25, 2024


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By: Khushbu Ahlawat

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Arms race creates the conditions for war and tensions among Nations, and even Nation spends a large number of funds for raising an army and building weapons, which could have been used to promote development. We have seen that the failure of Disarmament and Arms control efforts led to the First and Second World Wars, which terrified humankind, Disturbed peace, and security. In the very image of the Third World, war one finds the end of humankind. During the 1950s and 1960s, the development of Atom bombs, Intercontinental ballistic missiles, and submarinelaunched ballistic missiles, high-grade spy planes were developed in order to threaten the survival of the world. Disarmament is the most important of the many ways war may be prevented. The condition of the cold war slowed the progress toward disarmament and arms control resulting in forming military alliances and encountering weapons of mass destruction. At the end of the Cold war, superpowers moved forward to implement positive steps toward Disarmament and Arms control because implementing these steps would secure the survival of Mankind on the earth.


Disarmament and Arms control possess different meanings. Arms control connotes the idea of improving national security by adjusting armament capabilities, while Disarmament connotes the concept of reduction, elimination, control, or limitations of armaments. Disarmament does not mean the reduction of weapons at a future time. The concept of arms control covers the control of weapons for the future. There are several types of Disarmament: Human, Conventional, Nuclear, Qualitative, and Quantitative disarmament, etc., while Arms reduction and Arms limitation are the two types of arms control. According to Morgenthau, Disarmament isthe reduction or elimination of certain or all agreements to end the armament race. He said that the arms race aggregates the power struggle, but Disarmament improves political tensions. But VV Dyke noted that reducing existing weapons required by disarmament would not ensure international peace for a long time if countries can acquire new armaments that might even be more dangerous and sophisticated.


The Cold War is a series of agreements and treaties between the two superpowers. The disarmament agreements in which the two superpowers agreed to limit or reduce the creation of new warheads and weapons of mass destruction. It is also an example of détente as it involved the two countries discussing and working together to meet a common goal.

● BARUCH PLAN AND GROMYKO PLAN: The United States represented the Baruch Plan in 1946 for the international control of atomic weapons to the United Nations. The Soviet Union rejected it because they feared the plan would preserve the American nuclear monopoly. In response to the Baruch Plan, the Soviet Union presented the Gromyko Plan, which aimed to dismantle all nuclear weapons.

● PARTIAL TEST BAN TREATY (1963): The PTBT aimed to ban nuclear testing in the atmosphere, underwater, and in space, but nuclear weapons testing was continued underground.

● NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY: The treaty of Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapons was signed on July 1968 and came into force in 1970. The NPT aimed to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and related technology, Disarmament and aimed to use nuclear energy peacefully. The NPT has primarily been successful but not perfect because of the spread of nuclear weapons globally because those who have not joined the NPT, like Ind, Pak, and Israel, went ahead with possessing nuclear weapons.

● BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS CONVENTIONS: To check the use of bacteriological and chemical weapons, BWC was signed in 1972 to achieve complete disarmament.

● ANTI-BALLISTIC MISSILE TREATY: It was signed in 1972 and prohibited using defensive systems that might give an advantage to one side in a nuclear war. The Mutually Assured Destruction scenario was invoked here to assure that each nation had enough weapons to survive a nuclear attack and, therefore, could stop others. Their grounds were that aslong as both sides remained defenseless, neither countrywould dare attack the other.

● SALT I AND SALT II: The first agreements, known as SALT I and SALT II, were signed by the United States and the USSR in 1972 and 1979, respectively, and were intended to curb the arms race in strategic (long-range or intercontinental) ballistic missiles armed with nuclear weapons.

● HELSINKI CONFERENCE (1975): A significant part of the Helsinki Agreement was to promote human rights, adherence to international law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes.

● START I AND START II: Big success in disarmament efforts was the signing of the (START) for 15 years by President George Bush of the USA and President Gorbachev of the USSR in 1991. Both nations agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenals by up to 30 percent. Both nations agreed to reduce their strategic nuclear weapons stock. To bring about a further reduction in strategic nuclear weapons, American President Bush and the new Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed START II in 1993. START II sought to bring down the US nuclear stockpiles to the 1960s level and Russian nuclear stockpiles to the mid-1970s level. It agreed to a two-thirds reduction in strategic nuclear missiles, i.e., ICBMs and SLBM, as well as heavy bombers. The only major problem was the delay in implementation, as it failed to get operational before 2003.

● COMPREHENSIVE TEST BAN TREATY (1996): The CTBT was created to prevent the testing of nuclear weapons and to reduce the chance of an arms race. It bans all nuclear explosions in all environments.

● UN TREATY FOR ELIMINATION OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS: In 1993, the UN drafted a treaty to eliminate chemical weapons. However, many Arab states refused to sign as they first demanded Israel’s weapons of destruction.

● TREATY ON STRATEGIC OFFENSE REDUCTION: The US and Russia signed this treaty to overcome the dysfunctions of 1993 START II, which had failed miserably. Both nations agreed to reduce strategic nuclear warheads, ICBMs, and SLBMs. ACCORDING TO ME, THE AGREEMENT WAS SUCCESSFUL WAS START I because it was signed on July 31, 1991, by the United States and the Soviet Union and This was the first treaty that required the U.S. and Soviet/Russian reductions of strategic nuclear weapons. On December 1991, when the Soviet Union dissolved, it left four independent states in control of strategic nuclear weapons: Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, which caused a delay in the entry into force of the treaty. On May 23, 1992, the United States and the four nuclear-capable successor statesto the Soviet Union signed the Lisbon Protocol, which made all five nations party to the START I agreement. START I entered into force in 1994. The outcome of this Treaty was massive as it leads to the removal of Missiles from Active Installation places, the army reduced manpower, and the 24-hour defense system was terminated. The United States and the Russian Federation continued reduction efforts even after reaching the START limits. When USSR disintegrated, Russia took responsibility of implementing principles of START I. . HURDLES IN ACHIEVING DISARMAMENT In the Cold War era, the rivalry was based on ideological differences (liberalism versus communism), which had become one of the major barriers to the failure of disarmament efforts in the case of the US and the USSR. Several factors have been hindering the process of securing Disarmament in international relations:

● FEELING OF SECURITY According to Palmer and Perkins, security is the major hindrance to disarmament. International tensions and mutual fear among the nations develop feelings of insecurity. In the post-WWII period, the emergence of nuclear weapons caused a big impact on the nature of international relations. We have seen that the US developed nuclear weapon capability and dropped Atom bombs (HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI) on Japan. Then other nations also tried to develop nuclear weapons quickly to incredible boost national power while acting as a deterrent. After the US, the USSR successfully prepared nuclear weapons, which was the start of the Bipolar period, which led to the formation of military and counter alliances. Then, the UK, France, and China started to develop nuclear weapons, and because of that Non- nuclear states developed feelings of insecurity. They also started building Nuclear weapons, and because of this, The world today remains at a hazardous level of nuclear weapon stockpiles.

● FEAR AND MUTUAL DISTRUST The strong distrust among several nations makes it difficult for the international community to go for Disarmament. The disarmament plans that, from time to time, are offered by various nations are mostly based upon fear and distrust, and that is why these always contain several reservations and “Joker Clauses,” which some nations can never be expected to accept. As Schleicher said that “If there were perfect trust among nations, arms would be unnecessary, and disarmament would not be a problem.”

● RATIO AMONG THE ARMAMENTS Every nation wants to be superior in disarmament to others, and this is always the first plan of the disarmament conference. How different types and quantities of armaments should be allotted to different nations is another question that poses a hurdle in the way of disarmament.

● PROBLEM OF IMPLEMENTATIONS OF AGREEMENT OF RATIOS Even if there may be an agreement on the power ratios that ought to prevail among states seeking disarmament, there would still be significant obstacles to disarmament. Different states are bound to have more or less power in international relations. This is bound to be there because the military factor is always dependent upon several other factors. Nations with allocated ratios of armaments and military power are bound to be motivated differently in favor or against war. Hence, even the fixation on the ratio of weapons strength cannot fully solve the problem of disarmament.

● POLITICAL RIVALRY AND DISPUTES Hans J. Morgenthau considers the conflict of powers as the main hindrance in the way of disarmament. Political rivalry and disputes acted as a roadblock in the course of disarmament.

● POWER EQUALITY The superpowers like the USA have achieved the maximum limit in the realm of armaments, and It is now in their interest to halt the arms race. But the nations that are much behind in the arms race want disarmament only when they have reached rough equivalence with the superpowers. They consider the power equality as the ideal situation for disarmament. Since this situation is doubtful, disarmament also appears uncertain. The highly dynamic nature of military technology and the importance of the armament industry, Love for narrowly conceived national sovereignty in the existing international economic system constitute the hindrances in disarmament.


Today’s nuclear world is very different from the bipolar world of the Cold War dominated by superpower nuclear rivalry. The center of gravity has shifted from the Euro-Atlantic to the AsiaPacific region, and this is a more crowded geopolitical space lacking security. Disarmament will not be successful in preventing war in today’s scenario because of disputes among nations like US-CHINA tensions, CHINA-TAIWAN tensions, INDO-PAK tensions, CHINA-JAPAN tensions, and RUSSIA-UKRAINE tensions. Intense Political rivalry and Political conflicts posed the biggest obstacle to prevent war and Achieve Disarmament. Nuclear weapons are inherently hazardous and pose an unparalleled threat to the very existence of humankind. As we have seen, The US still holds an unchallenged nuclear monopoly in the current scenario and is not beatable easily. Because of technological advancements like Cyber Warfare, Artificial Intelligence, and Advance Defense Equipments, Disarmament is not possible. Even Convincing the countries to Disarmament is challenging enough because of existing rivalries. We have seen that similarminded countries such as Iran and North Korea seek to disrupt security globally by revising the global rules-based order and threatening their neighbors. Nowadays, the possibility of war also depends on the Economic Inter- linkages of countries and Counter Dependence, as we have seen in the Russia-Ukraine war. IF I BECOME SECRETORY GENERAL OF THE UN, I WILL TAKE A STEP TOWARD ACHIEVING DISARMAMENT: I believe that eliminating nuclear weapons would be the greatest gift we could bestow on future generations. Firstly, I will organize a summit with the West to request them to work with its allies and friends worldwide to push back against revisionism and aggression, restore deterrence, and seek to maintain peace. I will reinforce confidence and security-building measures to achieve Disarmament because arms control is not a sign of weakness but an international responsibility and a national necessity. To prevent war, I believe that Posing Economic Sanctions is the best alternative because nowadays because countries are linked economically. There is no need to make new policies as the Renewal of Disarmament Diplomacy, inclusiveness, negotiations, and diplomacy are most required. Peace cannot be achieved until revitalizing the international community’s commitment to arms control and disarmament. I will ensure the Ratification of the Treaties to achieve Disarmament. I will organize Plans for Peace and Arms Control to ensure disarmament and will try my best to develop a shared understanding of the multiple threats to end the nuclear threat once and for all. So, I believe that NEGOTIATIONS, ENSURING RATIFICATIONS, RENEWAL OF POLICIES, YOUNG GENERATIONS (tremendous force), AND POSING ECONOMIC SANCTIONS are the best alternatives to achieve Disarmament.

About the Author

Khushbu Ahlawat is from Sonipat, Haryana and has done her graduation from Daulat Ram College, Delhi University in BA (Hons) Political Science. Currently she is pursuing Master of Arts in International studies at Christ University, Bengaluru.


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