Following the inception of the “Treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons NPT” in 1967, about 186 states signed NPT as non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS) which are obliged to refrain from acquiring or manufacturing nuclear weapons nor these states are allowed to seek or receive assistance from nuclear weapon states in this regard, and have to comply with the prerequisites defined by IAEA. The reasons due to which these states decided to give up their sovereign right of acquiring nuclear weapons (despite the fact that some of these states are actually capable to develop nuclear weapons) are driven by motivations that vary according to the states’ regional and domestic security dynamics, combined with the international normative values. Hence, in order to identify and understand the relevant reasons, case studies and an analysis have been presented.
UKRAINE: After exploring the official statements related to the nuclear policy, issued by Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), following reasons were observed due to which Ukraine signed NPT: international pressure, technical incapability, unstable economic affairs, incentive given by NPT in terms of civil nuclear technology (membership of MCTR “Missile Technology Control Regime” saved the space industry of Ukraine), pursuit for the stability of the newly established state in the region etc. At first, Ukraine tried to hold the rights over a nuclear arsenal (that it inherited after the disintegration of USSR). However, it seemed unable to handle international pressure. Moreover, MFA of Ukraine acknoweldged that Ukrain didn’t want to offend the IAEA prerequisites as doing so would result in unstable economic relations with other states, especially Russia; the halted supply of nuclear fuel from Russia would cause the Ukranian nuclear power plants to shut down which might have result in energy crisis.
EGYPT:Previously interested in the procurement of nuclear weapons (due to perceived threat from “nuclear activity of Israel”), Egypt signed NPT in 1981 as it perceived (constructivism) that the benefits of signing NPT were impeccable in terms of diplomatic ties with US and aid of approximately two billion dollars provided by US every year. Moreover, Egypt had the chance to be “good international citizen” as per the international norms and to criticize the Israel’s ambigous nuclear aims.
BRAZIL AND ARGENTINA: Brazil and Argentina faced security dilemma due to the “long-standing rivalry” between them. Later on, due to the adoption of the “democratic regimes”, their rivalry was mitigated. Later on, Argentina and Brazil states became party to the NPT as NNWS in the years 1995 and 1998 respectively. Hence, the security dilemma was over and these states, being democratic states and as per the international normative values, had no reason to stay out of NPT. So the “low security threat” is the main reason due to which these states signed NPT as NNWS.
SOUTH KOREA:Despite having the advanced nuclear reactors manufacturing industry, South Korea chose to sign NPT as NNWS, partly because of its capitalist approach and international norms, and partly because of nuclear umbrella sought by South Korea from USA (though the influence of extended nuclear deterrence remains debatable between scholars).Moreover,according to some scholars, a few states are able to develop and manufacture the final product (nuclear weapons) but have not done it yet, either due to diplomatic reasons or simply because they do not have the reason to rush towards the development of nuclear weapons as they can manufacture nukes any time by withdrawing from NPT in case they perceived potential threat. However, the personal opinion is that it is highly unlikely of South Korea to withdraw from NPT.
JAPAN:Japan signed NPT as NNWS due to the international condemnation it faced which resulted from its aggressive historical background, and due to article 9 (renounced its right to keep armed forces except for defensive purposes) in its constitution. Moreover, like South Korea it has nuclear umbrella from US. However, scholars debate over the future of Japan (Whether it would remain non-nuclear state or not).
Although, multiple scholars gave multiple sets of “proliferation motives” yet an attempt has been made in this article to identify the most relevant motives and reasons due to which states signed NPT as NNWS, after studying the cases of the few states ( elaborated above).
First of all, The expense of the enrichment of fissile material (uranium or plutonium) and the development of stable nuclear arsenals, could be a disincentive for developing states to procure nuclear weapons. Therefore, such states might have signed NPT in order to be benefited by prohibitive international laws (for the use of force) in terms of security.
Second reason is theRegional Security Dynamics; whether a state is facing security dilemma with its adversary or not. If a state is not facing any security dilemma then there is no reason for the state to stay out of NPT. Otherwise, procurement of nuclear weapons would pose potential threat to the security of the state as compared to the disarmament. The initiative for the development of nuclear weapons taken by a state would insecure its adversary and may lead to arms race in the region that would ultimately, contribute to the instability of that region. Another reason could be drived from the perceived “Nuclear Umbrella”; state such as South Korea and Japan may not develop nuclear weapons as in case of conflict, they would seek help, in the form of the deployment of nuclear weapons, from the USA; a phenomeon known as extended deterrence.
Thirdly, International Normative values based contructivism could also be considered a reason due to which states signed NPT as NNWS. The term nuclear taboo became the part of the scholarly text which emphasized the constructivist perception that the making and the use of nuclear weapons is immoral and the (perceived) legitimate initiatives related to he non-proliferation and disarmament would increase their prestige (which might also be beneficial for inter-state relations of a state with others and for the trade). This norm has been institutionalized in Non-proliferation Treaty. In other words, “states prefer to be good international citizens; the ones which do not develop nuclear weapons” (Jacques Hymans). Hence, the states overwhelmed (international pressure) by the international norms signed NPT as non-nuclear weapon states. Many states (which possessed the capability of developing nuclear weapons) started nuclear programs before NPT entered into force. Later on, these states terminated their nuclear programs and signed NPT due to the altered norms of cost and benefit analysis; favorable trade agreements and the changed definition of appropriate state behavior. Another factor that contributes to this topic is the history of the states (e.g Japan’ case).
Fourthly,the behavior of the states influenced by intra-state political and economic affairs could also be a reason; political structure and type of government along with the state’s priorities (military security prioritized over economic security and vice versa). Democratic states tend to be the protagonist of NPT and prefer to obey the international laws (However, this opinion remains debatable). Moreover, the “willingness” of the state leaders to prefer the economic growth (through international trade and cooperation; a liberal perspective) could also be a “non-proliferation motive”, since doing otherwise (prefering to develop nuclear weapons) would result in economic sanctions and disintergration.
Fifth reason is the most common and widely understood reason that is the incentive (bargain) offered by NPT to the non-nuclear weapons states; the providence of civil nuclear technology for the peaceful purposes (e.g generating electricity or for medical purposes etc.).
Other reasons have also been assumed after observing the state of world affairs, for example: the monopoly of P5, that is, not to let other states acquire nuclear weapons could also be the reason; the small weak states or the states that are newly established may have signed NPT after being pressurized by these countries on political and economical level. Moreover,some states might have signed NPT to simply support the cause of this treaty. For example, New Zealand signed NPT because it is a great protagonist of the non-proliferation and disarmament cause. In addition to that, these states, at the time of signing the treaty, expected P5 to disarm as per the treaty’s articles. The matter that the P5 haven’t done it yet, has been raised at NPT meetings many times, by NNWS.
Since there are 186 states party to the NPT as Non-Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS), the reasons for them signing as NNWS are numerous. However these reasons could be narrowed down to the few major reasons; security dynamics of the regions where these states are situated, their intra-state matters, the prevailing norms in the international system, cost and beneft analysis over the incentives offered by NPT etc. However, the effect of NPT is uncertain since the states that have signed NPT do not have immediate security threats. In case, they face threats from adversary, the decisive role of NPT over such potential security issues remains debatable.