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Kittrie speaks at ASIL on nonproliferation aftermath


May 15, 2013

Professor Orde Kittrie of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law spoke at an April 4 meeting of the American Society of International Law as part of a panel on “Nonproliferation Aftermath: Legal Responsibilities Under International Law Once WMD Programs Have Been Secured or Destroyed,” in Washington, D.C. 

The panel explored what happens when a party to any of the key weapons of mass destruction (WMD) treaties (chemical, biological, nuclear) acquires elements of another nation’s or group’s WMD program. “President Obama has several times implied that he would, if necessary, order or endorse military strikes against Syrian chemical weapons or Iranian nuclear facilities,” Kittrie told the audience.

Kittrie provided an overview of the facts and legal theories under which the U.S. might act, then turned to a discussion of legal issues once the initial actions have been taken. He focused on three main categories of international legal issues that could arise in the process of securing or destroying the Syrian or Iranian WMD programs.

The first category is responsibilities imposed by international legal restrictions on wartime damage to the environment. He noted these restrictions could possibly be implicated by damage caused by attacks on Iran’s nuclear program, but are more likely to be implicated by damage caused by attacks on Syria’s chemical arsenal.   

The second category is responsibilities imposed by the prohibitions on WMD possession which are contained in the Chemical Weapons Convention. Kittrie noted these prohibitions may be implicated if some or all of Syria’s chemical arsenal is seized by the U.S. or its allies.

The third category is civil liability concerns which may discourage WMD dismantlement and destruction work, especially by contractors and other non-governmental personnel.

Kittrie’s teaching and research focus on international law - especially nonproliferation and sanctions - and criminal law. He is affiliated with ASU’s McCain Institute for International Leadership.