There ARE legal constraints on Trump’s thermonuclear monarchy

By Kjølv Egeland

The rise to power in the United States of a man many believe to have poor self-control has alerted new generations to the terrifying nature of what Elaine Scarry calls the American ‘thermonuclear monarchy’: the unchecked possibility for the US president to destroy all human civilisation through nuclear war and winter. The United States commands the world’s most powerful nuclear arsenal by some margin. Continue reading “There ARE legal constraints on Trump’s thermonuclear monarchy”

Nuclear rights and duties

By Kjølv Egeland 

Article 19 of the nuclear weapons ban currently under negotiation at the UN in New York City raised eyebrows when the first draft of the agreement was released a few weeks ago. The convention, it says, would ‘not affect the rights and obligations of the States Parties [sic] under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.’

Article 19, some worried, would allow the states defined by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as ‘nuclear-weapon states’ to retain their arsenals. Continue reading “Nuclear rights and duties”

To ban nuclear deterrence, ban possession, not threat of use

Kjølv Egeland

The first draft of the nuclear weapons ban treaty (I suppose we should start calling it ‘the prohibition convention’ now) does not ban the ‘threat of use’ of nuclear weapons. This omission has led some commentators to suggest that the ban treaty would allow the practice of nuclear deterrence. I propose a radically different reading of the draft: while the existing draft’s combination of prohibitions against ‘possession’ and ‘assistance, encouragement, and inducement’ of prohibited acts does in fact effectively outlaw the practice of nuclear deterrence, a ban against the ‘threat of use’ of nuclear weapons would not. Continue reading “To ban nuclear deterrence, ban possession, not threat of use”

Should the ban treaty oblige its parties to ratify the NPT?

By Kjølv Egeland

Joining the nuclear weapons ban treaty should only be open to states that have ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), argued the Argentinian delegation to the first segment of substantive negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons at the UN in March. The reason for including such a provision would presumably be to provide a “deterrent to states that are considering withdrawing from the NPT, ensuring that they cannot deflect international condemnation by claiming to be committed to disarmament proceedings via the ban treaty.”   Continue reading “Should the ban treaty oblige its parties to ratify the NPT?”

Four questions for nuclear ban treaty negotiators

Delegations to the ban treaty negotiations in 2017 need to take a position on the following issues

By Kjølv Egeland

There has been much debate about the wisdom of negotiating a ban on nuclear weapons without the nuclear-armed states involved in the process. (See herehere, and here for a selection.) There has also been some work on what such a ban treaty might include with respect to substantive prohibitions (use, possession, transfer, financing etc.). Less has been written about the complex technical matters negotiators must confront. Here are four of them.  Continue reading “Four questions for nuclear ban treaty negotiators”

You heard it here first: Donald Trump will set in motion a radical nuclear disarmament process

By Kjølv Egeland

Trump, Reagan, and nuclear disarmament

When he enters the White House in January next year, Donald Trump will, by my totally unscientific measurements, become the wackiest US President ever to grace America and the world. Continue reading “You heard it here first: Donald Trump will set in motion a radical nuclear disarmament process”