International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms
In the United States we are grappling with horrific outbreaks of violence. We must find a way toward "domestic tranquility," as the Constitution promises.
It must also be remembered that the avoidance of massive violence on a global scale depends on continued work for peace and disarmament. This eNews concerns developments and LCNP's work on several fronts: norms against use of nuclear weapons; a downward spiral in US-Russian nuclear arms control; destabilizing emerging technologies; and a renewed assertion of human rights in the nuclear sphere.
LCNP needs your tax-deductible financial support to sustain our work. As Daniel Ellsberg, author of The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, recently said: "Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy has been a strong voice for reason and law combatting the madness of nuclear weapons for nearly four decades. In the face of today's acute nuclear dangers, LCNP needs and deserves your support more than ever." Send a check to the address at the end of this eNews, or click on the Donate Now button.
Issues regarding nuclear arms came up briefly in the July 30
of contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination. Senator Elizabeth Warren defended the policy of no first use as a means of lowering risks of miscalculation. True. But what was not discussed is that the legal, moral, and prudential case against any use, first or second or third, is overwhelming. For more, see the contributions of LCNP's John Burroughs and others at a conference held at Harvard in November 2017, "Presidential First Use of Nuclear Weapons: Is it Legal? Is it Constitutional? Is it Just?" (
What received less attention but is just as important was Representative Tulsi Gabbard's stark reminder in the July 31
that the forces are in place for Americans any given day to get an alert of
incoming nuclear missiles. That very thing happened in Hawaii in January 2018, and for an agonizing 38 minutes before the alert was cancelled many Hawaiians believed they were living their last moments. The mistaken alert vividly underlines that several times the world has been close to nuclear war due to
human error or technological malfunction
There should be more, much more, discussion of nuclear weapons issues in debates and by the candidates, as the US Conference of Mayors urged in a July 1
. It calls on candidates to declare their positions on such issues and to support steps including negotiation of the verified global elimination of nuclear arms. The resolution was spearheaded by Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, North American Vice-President of Mayors for Peace, and Jacqueline Cabasso, North American Coordinator of Mayors for Peace and an LCNP advisor.
LCNP has been engaged in advocacy that Congress change the paradigm of 'nuclear deterrence' through such measures as
House Resolution 302
put forward by Reps. Jim McGovern and Earl Blumenauer. It embraces the goals of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and calls for implementation of Back from the Brink measures including pursuit of a verified agreement among nuclear powers to eliminate their arsenals. In May, Burroughs and LCNP Board member Seth Shelden participated over several days in meetings with Congressional staff organized by the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability. Topics included H Res 302 as well as the Rep. Adam Smith/Sen. Warren sponsored bill (HR 921, S 272) establishing no first use as US policy and the Sen. Edward Markey/Rep. Ted Lieu bill (S 200, HR 669) restricting presidential authority to use nuclear arms.
Arms Control and Non-Proliferation:
A Downward Spiral
On August 2, the withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty initiated by the Trump administration took effect, and the treaty is no more. Termination of the treaty was unnecessary and unwise, as Andrew Lichterman of Western States Legal Foundation and Burroughs explained in an IPS
early this year (see also this Truthdig
on the broader US-Russian nuclear relationship). The treaty's corpse was still warm when new Secretary of Defense Mark Esper started
about development of intermediate-range missiles and their deployment, perhaps conventionally armed, in Asia. Indeed, an interest in such deployments in relation to China may have been the motivating factor for US termination of the treaty.
The administration's stonewalling of a five-year extension of New START, which limits US and Russian long-range nuclear forces, raises the prospect, starting in 2021, of no limits whatever on the two sides' arsenals. The administration has called for the inclusion of China in negotiations, but China is very unlikely to participate so long as US and Russian arsenals are and will be far
than theirs. The China card may be a play by National Security Advisor John Bolton to rationalize letting New START expire in 2021. Meanwhile, nuclear arms racing between the US and Russia is accelerating (see
at NPT PrepCom by LCNP and other groups).
The best course would be extension of New START accompanied by but not conditional on negotiations about far deeper US-Russian reductions, efforts to include China and perhaps other countries in arms control, and initiation of a multilateral process on the global elimination of nuclear weapons (the world won't get there if talks never begin).
Non-proliferation as well as arms control is at risk. The Trump administration's
of the multilateral agreement with Iran, the JCPOA, has led to the current confrontation with Iran and the possible breakdown of the JCPOA. In 2018, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman openly
about development of nuclear arms if Iran does so. Iran had basically
its nuclear weapons program by 2003, and the JCPOA erects major barriers to its resumption. Acquisition of nuclear arms by Middle Eastern states in addition to Israel would be a very hard blow to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regime. What is needed is for the United States effectively to rejoin the JCPOA, whatever mechanism, name, or rationale is supplied.
Another source of danger and of pressure on the NPT is the current stalemate with North Korea. It withdrew from the NPT in 2003, the only state to have done so. Its acquisition of nuclear arms is a stimulant for Japan to consider building an arsenal, which it could do quite quickly. The United States should accept that to be successful, North Korean denuclearization will have to be coupled with construction of a peace regime for the Korean Peninsula - including limits on US nuclear and other military deployments.
Hypersonic Missiles and
Other Emerging Technologies
With LCNP President Guy Quinlan taking the lead, we have urged the government to take seriously the destabilizing effects of new technologies - cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, hypersonic missiles, and more - on nuclear postures. We have been at this for several years now. An article earlier this summer in the New York Times Magazine, "
Hypersonic Missiles Are Unstoppable
," notes that in 2016,
"the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, acting in conjunction with other nonprofits committed to disarmament, called on the president to head off a hypersonic competition and its anticipated drain on future federal budgets by exploring a joint moratorium with China and Russia on testing. The idea was never taken up.
Human Rights, Democracy,
and Nuclear Weapons
As explained in the last
and in this excellent Abolition 2000
, in October 2018 a UN Human Rights Committee General Comment declared the incompatibility of threat or use of nuclear weapons with the right to life recognized by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We continued to examine this and related developments in a May 1 NPT PrepCom side-event LCNP organized on human rights, democracy, and nuclear weapons. It featured our colleagues
of Swiss Lawyers for Nuclear Disarmament, who explained the committee's comment;
of the Harvard International Human Rights Clinic, who examined the application of human rights to nuclear arms in the context of the nuclear ban treaty; and
of Western States Legal Foundation, who discussed the role of social movements in realizing the promise of human rights law. Remarks are available at