Can International Law Resolve the Iran Nuclear Crisis? Nope.

by Julian Ku

UK human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson has a confused, muddled, and revealing editorial in Bloomberg about how international law might help resolve the Iran nuclear crisis. While he describes the relevant law accurately, he fails to show how international law is doing much of anything to resolve the crisis.  Here is the relevant law, as he sees it: Israel has a right of self defense, but not to attack Iran even if Iran builds a nuclear weapon. The U.S. needs Security Council authorization to attack Iran (which it won’t get). Iran is allowed under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Agreement to develop a full nuclear cycle, and then withdraw from the NPT when its weapons are ready.  This might be correct, as a legal matter, but how does it help anything? It simply shows that existing international law permits Iran to get a nuclear weapon while preventing anyone else from doing anything about it.  So what’s his solution? Everyone else disarm.

According to the World Court — correctly this time — nuclear-armed countries have a legal obligation under Article VI of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty to negotiate a gradual disarmament, to zero. This might be done on a “first in, last out” basis, with North Korea being first to lose its bombs and a final ceremony to destroy simultaneously what is left in the Russian and U.S. arsenals — perhaps attended by the aging former U.S. and Russian leaders, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, circa 2045.

Umm…sure…that is going to happen. And that will work.  I thought lawyers were supposed to offer practical and useful solutions, not utopian fantasies.  I guess not when you are Geoffrey Robertson Q.C.

One Response

  1. Very well said. Sometimes lawyers have the megalomanic illusion that law can solve everything. Law is very important, but not omnipotent.

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