Evidence, Commentary, and Judgment

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Chapter 3
Use of Nuclear Weapons

The fact that nuclear weapons are a subject of separate negotiations cannot be taken to exempt them from established international law.

It is obvious that the applicability of law to a nuclear setting requires consideration of the likely physical consequences of the use of nuclear weapons. Firstly, can it ever be possible to reconcile the use of nuclear weapons with the accepted principles identified in Chapter 1. In particular, is it possible to use nuclear weapons in a way which distinguishes between combatants and non-combatants, which represents proportionality of force, which can ever be selective or discriminating, and which does not violate the rights of neutral states.

The Tribunal heard much evidence to the effect that nuclear weapons are extremely destructive of both persons and property (Iwasa , Sagan , Myers , Greene , Steadman , Dawson , Haines , Saito , Thompson , Percival , Alcalay ). The detonation of just one, one-megaton nuclear warhead over a major city would result in 900,000 immediate deaths primarily from blast and heat, and a further 900,000 from the effects of radiation, making a total of 1.8 million. The health and emergency services of the European countries could not cope with just one such detonation. Evidence from the British Medical Association indicated, that the medical services would be completely overwhelmed by one such bomb.

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© 1985-2005 Geoffrey Darnton. All rights reserved.