Evidence, Commentary, and Judgment

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2.1 Lawfulness of Nuclear Weapons - Position of Nuclear States

Professor Meyrowitz stated the US position as to the legal status of nuclear weapons under international law thus:

"The official US position is that there is no expressed prohibition in international law or formal treaty or clause in a convention that prohibits the use of nuclear weapons."

The USSRs position was stated by Dr Vlasikhin as follows:

"Although the existing instruments, conventions and Geneva protocols prohibit the weapons of mass destruction, and obviously nuclear arms fall under this category, still there is no specific prohibition of the nuclear arms."

The British position was stated in correspondence from the British Foreign Office, whilst declining the Tribunal's invitation to give evidence: "The Government's considered and firm view is that there is no aspect of current defence policy which is inconsistent with the United Kingdom's obligations under international law, including the laws of war. Britain and NATO possess nuclear weapons only to deter aggression. NATO leaders gave a solemn undertaking in Bonn in 1982, repeated in Brussels in December 1983, that no NATO weapon, be it conventional or nuclear, would ever be used except in response to aggression. NATO possesses nuclear weapons not to fight war but to prevent one ever occurring".

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