by Marc Cogen
Looking at the international debate on the nuclear weapons policy of
Governments are well aware that the ongoing nuclear arms race by totalitarian regimes in
If there is any question relevant to nuclear arms, it is the question which countries are entitled to nuclear warheads according to international law. Every student of an introductory course of international law knows that only a handful of states do have this right: the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, which are state parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and three states which have never accepted or ratified NPT: India, Pakistan and Israel. All other states have ratified NPT and are legally bound not to acquire or develop nuclear weapons. Lawyers, who happen to be our elected leaders, should keep in mind international law when dealing with the current illegal nuclear arms race by
So, what are the lessons from the past based on the 20th century experience with international law?
The first lesson is that governments of democracies have the political duty to lead their nations instead of following erratic public opinion polls. Public opinion and the electorate are volatile, always acting in the short time. Long-term planning and judgment of long-term implications do not fit in the mindset of voters in free democracies. This is inherently problematic when it comes to a nuclear arms race.
The second lesson is that treaties should be implemented in good faith and, in case of persistent non-compliance, recourse to force can be the only remedy. Treaties are freely accepted and enforceable agreements which should not be crossed unpunished. This is all the more true when it comes to nuclear non-proliferation treaties which are at the heart of the global security system. The 'Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty' (NPT) is the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Transparency and compliance are monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency in
The third lesson is that we should keep focusing on the security policy of preventing massive damage to our states and citizens. The essence of any security policy of democracies is that we cannot allow the risk of a kind of 9/11 attack or a nuclear
'Iran has not established full and sustained suspension of all enrichment related and reprocessing activities and heavy water-related projects as set out in resolution 1696 (2006), 1737 (2006), and 1747 (2007), nor resumed its cooperation with the IAEA under the Additional Protocol, nor taken the other steps required by the IAEA Board of Governors, nor complied with the provisions of Security Council resolution 1696 (2006), 1737 (2006) and 1747 (2007) and which are essential to build confidence, and deploring Iran's refusal to take these steps'
A similar story is
There is no doubt that two states,
Marc Cogen is a Professor of International Law Gent University, Belgium
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