The Legal Status of Tactical Nuclear Weapons

Jeffrey Morton
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Most legal analysis of nuclear weapons has focused on strategic nuclear forces. In an era when the use of smaller, tactical nuclear weapons is increasingly contemplated by policymakers, the need to fully analyze the legal status of tactical nuclear weapons is evident. Statements by major powers, in particular the United States, regarding the legality of tactical nuclear weapons, such as nuclear landmines, reinforces the need to fully appreciate the legal restrictions in place on the use of such weapons of mass destruction. 

This paper will overview the evolution of tactical nuclear weapons and examine their potential battlefield application. Next, the laws of war as they relate to nuclear weapons is explored, followed by an analysis of the current legal status of tactical nuclear weapons. Suggestions for the further development of international law as it relates to tactical nuclear weapons is then provided.

Keywords: International Law, Tactical Nuclear Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction
Stream: Political Science, Politics
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Legal Status of Tactical Nuclear Weapons, The

Jeffrey Morton

Director of Peace Studies, Associate Professor of International Law and Politics, Department of Political Science, Florida Atlantic University

Ref: H05P0021