Nuclear Weapons, Justice and the Law

Nuclear Weapons, Justice and the Law

Elli Louka

It is often argued that the nuclear non-proliferation order divides the world into nuclear-weapon-haves and have-nots, creating a nuclear apartheid. Employing a careful and nuanced discussion of this claim, Elli Louka examines the architecture of the nuclear non-proliferation order, the fairness and effectiveness of international and regional institutions and scenarios for the future of nuclear weapons.

Chapter 4: The Architecture of the Non-Proliferation Order

Elli Louka

Subjects: law - academic, public international law, terrorism and security law, politics and public policy, terrorism and security


99 needs change. The NPT attempts to make the distinction between NWS and NNWS palatable through a number of tradeoffs. First, the treaty ensures that the commitment not to possess nuclear weapons does not translate into renunciation of the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Second, the treaty links the non-proliferation principle with nuclear disarmament, albeit quite loosely. The right of all states to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy relaxes the fundamental inequality at the root of the treaty that divides states into nuclear-weapon-haves and nuclear-weapon-have-nots. ‘Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.’6 Since all states have an inalienable right to nuclear energy, and given that the nuclear fuel cycle can be used for both peaceful and military purposes, one could claim that the treaty opens the door to its own infringement and that it allows for the emergence of TNWS. But the inalienable right to develop nuclear energy is not unrestrained; it is tied to the non-proliferation principle7 and it is subject to safeguards to ensure that the peaceful uses of nuclear energy are not diverted to military applications. The safeguardability principle is set forth explicitly in the treaty.8 The treaty provides that any NNWS party to the treaty undertakes to accept safeguards based on an agreement concluded with the IAEA in...

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