The Legality of Nuclear Weapons
Weekly Newsletters

The Legality of Nuclear Weapons

18 March 2022

Dear Network Members and Colleagues,

This week, John Carlson discusses the legality around the threat or use of nuclear weapons under international law. Łukasz Kulesa assesses the consequences of the war in Ukraine for the future of arms control and we feature a special report on chemical weapons in the Asia-Pacific by Jonathan Forman and Alexander Kelle, as well as network activities.

APLN member, John Carlson, former Director-General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, revisits the 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the question, “Is the threat or use of nuclear weapons in any circumstances permitted under international law?”.Carlson argues that the advisory opinion drew heavily on international humanitarian law principles which should be reflected in military policies, practices, and doctrines. He argues that with respect to nuclear weapons, international law expresses not only what is legally and morally right but what is essential for human survival. He provides recommendations for how national positions on nuclear weapons could better reflect international legal obligations.

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Jonathan Forman and Alexander Kelle, former science policy adviser and former senior policy officer at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, discuss the history of chemical weapons use and programs, progress in chemical disarmament, and the science and technology that informs these efforts. They conclude with an assessment of the current state of affairs, providing an outlook on the future prospects for chemical weapons use and mitigation in the Asia-Pacific.

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Łukasz Kulesa, deputy head of research at the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM) assesses the immediate effects and longer-term consequences for disarmament, non-proliferation, and arms control of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

He highlights the risks of escalation and use of weapons of mass destruction; greater polarisation between nuclear disarmament and deterrence advocates; expanding nuclear modernisation programmes; and a halt to arms control.

Read Now

This week, APLN hosted a two-day virtual conference on mobilising international, political, and financial support for an effective Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR Plus) initiative for the DPRK. Sponsored by the ROK Ministry of Unification, the conference was part of APLN’s CTR Plus research project.

The first session, “Applying CTR Plus to the DPRK – An Overview,” was public and live-streamed on the APLN YouTube channel. It featured special remarks by ROK Minister of Unification Lee In-young and former US Senator Sam Nunn.

Watch the webinar in English and Korean by clicking the buttons below.

Watch Now [in English]
Watch Now [한국어통역]

Prospects for Managing Risk in Nuclear South Asia
On 15 March, APLN member C. Raja Mohan, wrote for The Indian Express on how the Ukraine conflicts resets geopolitical calculations around the world. Read more

Don’t Count on China to Mediate the War in Ukraine
On 15 March, APLN member Kevin Rudd wrote for The Wall Street Journal on China’s political calculations over the Russia-Ukraine War. Read more

Prospects for Managing Risk in Nuclear South Asia
On 14 March, APLN members Manpreet Sethi and Tong Zhao spoke at a webinar titled “Prospects for Managing Risk in Nuclear South Asia”, hosted by The Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies. Read more

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