Category Archives: International Law

Nuclear Arms Control: Coming Back from Oblivion, Again

Tensions between the United States and Russian Federation have spiraled in recent years and the outlook for the bilateral nuclear arms control regime has become ever more grim. Comparisons to the early 1980s Cold War are common.

Now, as then, Washington and Moscow are geopolitical adversaries. A key arms control agreement has been abandoned. Nuclear modernization accelerates. Old nuclear hands warn that the risk of nuclear war is rising. Amid growing unease, practitioners and commenters debate nuclear policy priorities, how the arms control process might resume, and how best to reduce nuclear risks.

Dakota Rudsill’s essay analyzes the comparison of our present moment of nuclear destabilization with the Cold War’s frigid and perilous depths in the early 1980s. It argues that the analogy is not perfect but it is instructive. The Cold War teaches that arms control can come back from oblivion. By focusing on the right priorities—strategic stability in particular—and generating ideas now, a pragmatic slate of actionable stability-enhancing proposals can be ready when the geopolitical currents change and prospects for nuclear arms control recover.

Shaking the Rust Off the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Ratification Process

This article provides an analysis of the benefits a Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty and its ratification process would have on international norms, order, and the prosperity of all States involved. In a comprehensive call to action, Matsick recommends an insightful four-sided bargain by four of the largest nuclear powers that would suppress strategic fears and argues that this bargain might be more politically feasible than once believed.

The aftermath of the Second World War and the ensuing nuclear arms race that followed in the Cold War has had an array of impacts throughout the globe and on the international system.

Nuclear nonproliferation and non-testing norms were the expected solution to quash many of those same impacts from bleeding into the future. Rob Matsick focuses the reader on myriad recent developments that have put these norms under siege, and the need for a comprehensive treaty on nuclear testing to resolutely affirm and strengthen the existing legal regime.

Requesting a Challenge Inspection Against Syria Under the Chemical Weapons Convention: Venturing into Uncharted Territory

In response to the April 2018 chemical attack in Syria that killed more than 40 people, the United States, France, and Britain launched more than 100 missiles targeting three suspected chemical weapon storage and research facilities. However, subsequent reports have raised questions concerning the accuracy of the intelligence regarding these facilities. Rather than conducting this airstrike, the US-led coalition should have utilized the unique verification mechanism provided by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1997: a challenge inspection.

Through an in-depth examination of the never been used CWC challenge inspection, Jonathan Greengarden outlines the process for requesting a challenge inspection and explains why it is not too late to request such an inspection against Syria. Utilizing this powerful verification tool is necessary in order to hold CWC violators accountable and to reinforce the international norm against using chemical weapons.