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Rising powers and the global nuclear order: a structural study of India’s integration


The global nuclear order has been built around the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), primarily aimed at addressing the challenges of nuclear non-proliferation. In the last two decades, this order has faced growing challenges from the demands of emerging nuclear powers which it has been unable to meet effectively. These powers have either been outside the order, like India, Israel and Pakistan, or withdrawn from it, like North Korea, or could leave in future due to arguably compelling security concerns, like Iran, Japan and South Korea. These nations and the challenges they pose to the global nuclear order are mostly considered unique and are treated as exceptional. This paper examines the case of India which has found partial acceptance into the extant order from being a pariah nuclear state outside the NPT to a de facto nuclear weapon state designated by the US–India civil nuclear cooperation pact of 2008. It explicates the ongoing process of its integration into the order, underlining why this task remains daunting. Other than factors unique to India, the case of its rise in the global nuclear order captures the structural shortcomings of the extant order. While these underlying shortcomings remain, new nuclear powers, with or without support from the established ones, are likely to challenge the order in future.

Keywords: India, global nuclear order, nuclear non-proliferation, structuralism


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