The Legality of Nuclear Arms Under International Law

01 Jan 1987

This Article will examine different uses of nuclear weapons and will assess the legality of these uses under positive and customary international law. It will conclude that any nuclear weapon would be encompassed by the prohibition against gas and other related weapons. In addition, it will conclude that in all but its most limited uses, weapons would cause unnecessary suffering, would fail to discriminate between combatants and noncombatants, and would violate the territoriality of neutrals. Even when defenses to violations of international law are available, this Article will demonstrate that the realities associated with the use of nuclear weapons necessitate the conclusion that any military benefit conferred by such use is inherently disproportionate to the harms caused by any use of nuclear weapons and, therefore, that any use of nuclear weapons is illegal under international law.