Working Paper submitted by the India at the Third Special Session
1. Paragraph 39 of the Final Document of the Tenth Special Session of
2. A decade has passed since the adoption of the Final Document. During
this period, efforts
3. The total expenditure on military research and development (R and
D) -90 percent of it
4. There are certain historical imperatives for the growth of science
and technology. These,
5. New weapon systems are often developed without reference to the political
6. It is thus evident that the prospects for real disarmament will remain
bleak so long as this
The new arms race
7. Today, the world stands on the threshold of a new arms race. A number
(a) Nuclear Weapons
Intensive research and development work by laboratories has led to a major breakthrough in the design of nuclear weapons. The past few years have seen increased interest in the so-called “third generation” nuclear weapons.
The first generation nuclear weapons are based on fission; the second generation on fusion. The second generation weapon design has increased the sophistication and improved the yield-to-weight ratio of nuclear warheads. The central feature of the third generation nuclear weapons is the ability to pick and choose specific effects of nuclear weapons and enhance them, while suppressing the unwanted ones. The neutron bomb, or the enhanced radiation weapon, is the precursor of the third generation nuclear weapons.
A number of third generation nuclear-weapon designs are being actively explored. These include the X-ray laser in which the energy of the nuclear explosion is channeled into focused beams of intense X-ray radiation. The gamma ray laser microwave weapons and nuclear devices that can generate powerful electromagnetic pulses are other third generation concepts that are being explored.
Concurrently more accurate and precise modes of delivery of nuclear warheads are being explored to avoid the large collateral damage, inevitable in less accurate delivery. The maneuverable re-entry vehicle (MARV) is one such technology that is likely to dramatically increase the ability to deliver nuclear weapons with pin-point accuracy. The Earth-penetrating nuclear warhead design is another example of militarily usable nuclear explosions.
New directions in the use of nuclear energy for military purposes are also evident. Plans to deploy compact and powerful nuclear reactors in space are in advanced stages of development. The new military space missions for reactors include the powering of beam weapons, battle stations and supporting satellites. Accidents in already existing nuclear space systems have not been uncommon. Increased use of nuclear power in space could have dangerous ecological consequences.
(b) Defense against nuclear weapons
A variety of new and exotic technologies are being developed under the program to build defenses against nuclear missiles. These include technologies for weapon systems, surveillance, acquisition and tracking, battle management.
The weapons systems being developed include kinetic energy weapons. Kinetic energy weapons derive their destructive energy from the momentum of propelled objects. Electro-magnetic rail guns, which can propel objects to very high speeds, are another kind of new weapon under development.
In directed energy weapons, consisting either of lasers or of particle beams, energy propagated at the speed of light is used to destroy or disable targets. These weapon systems can be based on Earth or in space. Laser systems powered by both chemical and nuclear sources are being developed.
Although these new technologies and weapons are being projected as “defensive”, they also have offensive possibilities. The y could be particularly useful as anti-satellite weapons. Some of them could also be used against Earth-based objects.
(c) Chemical and Biological Weapons
In the past, the problems and costs of effectively integrating chemical and biological weapons into military doctrine and organization have acted as barriers against widespread military enthusiasm for chemical and biological warfare. But new technological developments could remove these barriers and facilitate greater use of chemical and biological weapons. One such technological innovation is the “binary” munitions for nerve gases.
The past few years have seen the enormous explosion in mankind’s knowledge of the molecular and cellular processes of life. There is also the emerging ability to manipulate these processes through genetic engineering and biotechnology. If these abilities are tapped for military purposes, there could be a new race to develop hideous weapons for chemical and biological warfare.
(d) Electronics, computers and artificial intelligence
The impact of the revolutionary developments in electronics and computers on military technology and strategy is already pervasive. The impact is seen in the transformation of weapons into “smart” systems, such as precision-guided weapons systems and cruise missiles. There is also the existing large-scale use of high performance computers in command, control and communication and intelligence functions.
The ongoing revolution in electronics and computers is further transforming the nature of warfare. Weapon systems are moving from the “smart” to the “intelligence” phase. Unprecedented capabilities for command, control and intelligence (C³I) systems required for enhanced war-fighting capabilities are under development. A whole range of surveillance and target acquisition systems, sophisticated sensors and high-speed automated data handling system are being built.
Of particular importance is the development of fifth generation computers and artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence techniques are likely to be used initially in aiding soldiers in handling enormous information in a very short time in a complicated environment. Artificial intelligence techniques are also being considered for the development of autonomous vehicles and automated battle management systems. The impact of the new developments in computer hardware and software extend from conventional warfare to nuclear war-fighting and strategic defense.
(e) Conventional Weapons
The words “conventional weapons” could already be a misnomer with the increasing accuracy, lethality and range of “conventional” weapon systems. There is an increased versatility in both launch platforms and warheads. The advances in weapon technology have already led to the conceptualization of strategic warfare without nuclear weapons. The use of ICBMs is being contemplated with conventional weapons. New types of delivery systems, such as trans-atmospheric vehicles and space planes capable of speeds ranging from 5 to 30 times the speed of sound and large payload capabilities, are being developed. These vehicles can operate in both atmosphere and space and can negotiate intercontinental distances in 10 to 15 minutes. The space planes, capable of horizontal take-off from and landing at normal airfields; lend themselves to greater use and flexibility in utilizing near-Earth space for military purposes and in carrying out a variety of offensive missions in a short span of time on Earth.
Implications of the new arms race
8. These developments have far-reaching implications for international
security and peace.
9. It is also evident that they carry a much greater risk of outbreak
of war, particularly
10 Furthermore, most of the new weapons systems are offense-dominated.
And even the
11. Moreover, a reasonably accurate assessment of the capabilities of
new weapon systems, force
12. Discreet and selective deployment of tailored nuclear weapons with
little collateral effect may
13. The increasing lethality and accuracy of non-nuclear weaponry has
brought such weapons
14. The distinctions between tactical and strategic weapons, and conventional
15. The existing barriers against chemical and biological warfare could
be eroded as a result of
16. These new trends have complicated the problem of the monitoring
and verification of
17. The new weapon capabilities are likely to be available only to the
two super-Powers and their
18. The new technologies pose a serious threat to the existing arms
control and disarmament
Need for action
19. The real challenge in the field of disarmament is to devise arrangements
for controlling the
20. The problems posed are far from simple. It is neither possible nor
desirable to put a stop on
21. If pursued in the context of a comprehensive disarmament program seeking to eliminate weapons of mass destruction and reducing conventional armaments to the minimum needed for defense, the efforts to control the qualitative arms race would be of great significance and indeed necessary.
Suggestions for action
(a) Increased transparency
22. Reliable information on what is happening on the other side can
remove a major reason for persisting with the qualitative refinement of
arsenals on a unilateral basis-namely, the fear of being caught by surprise
by technological breakthroughs by the adversary. Conversely, lack
of such knowledge frequently leads to exaggerated productions based on
“worst case” assumptions and creates pressure for undertaking whatever
the adversary might be presumed, at worst, to be doing.
24. The following suggestions are, therefore, put forward for achieving greater transparency and understanding in this critical and sensitive area:
(i) Technology assessment and forecasting panel: The Secretary-General should have at his disposal a technology assessment and forecasting panel consisting of a small group of eminent scientists and strategists. The task of the panel will be to identify and monitor those developments in the field of new and emerging technologies which have military applications, assess their likely impact on international security, and make projections based on such monitoring and assessment. The Secretary-General should consult this group from time to time. On the basis of such consultations and periodic reports to be submitted by the group, the Secretary-General should disseminate their assessment and forecasting, on a wider basis, including through reports to the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Conference on Disarmament.
(ii) National Panel of Experts: Each Government member should make more or less similar arrangements at the national level. It should constitute a panel of scientists which should report periodically to the Government and should be available for consultations from time to time. It should widely disseminate the information and assessment provided to the panel. The Governments, in turn, should submit an annual report to the Secretary-General. The Conference on Disarmament should also impress upon all member Governments that, whenever an emerging technology appears to have the potentiality of leading to the development of new weapons and new means of waging war, the details of such technologies should be given wide publicity.
(iii) Unit in the Department for Disarmament Affairs: A unit should be established in the Department of Disarmament Affairs to monitor and study the implications of new technologies with potential military applications. The Secretary-General’s panel should be able to draw upon the information and study compiled by the unit.
(b) New technology and technological missions
25. There should be greater international co-operation in the field of research in new and emerging technologies with a view to deploying them for peaceful purposes. For this purpose, new technology projects and new technological missions should be undertaken under the aegis of the United Nations. This will result in avoiding duplication of efforts in this high-cost area, fostering trust and promoting global progress and stability.
(c) Banning of technological missions clearly designed for developing new weapons
26. Negotiations should also start for banning those technological missions which are clearly designed for the development of new weapons and means of warfare. For example, there should be a ban on the development of ballistic missile defense systems.
(d) Guidelines in respect of new technologies with potential military applications
27. Guidelines should be drawn up under the aegis of the United Nations in respect of new technologies with potential military applications. To begin with, the guidelines could be voluntary in nature. They should be observed by Governments, where they are directly responsible for carrying out military R and D, and also recommended for observance by private laboratories and research institutions. Emphasis in the guidelines should be on transparency, the widest possible dissemination of information nationally and internationally, consultations with and reports to national authorities and the United Nations. They should also include such regulatory measures as may be found feasible. The Secretary-General should set up a group of experts for evolving a set of guidelines.