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Kittrie speaks at American Bar Association annual meeting

August 18, 2010

Professor Orde F. Kittrie spoke on a panel at the American Bar Association annual meeting in San Francisco on Aug. 7, on the topic, “New Standards in International Law: Anticipatory Self Defense and WMD Programs – the Use of Lethal Force.”

Other panelists included Professor Ruth Wedgwood of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, Leonard Spector, Esq., of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, and Colonel William Gade of the Office of General Counsel, U.S. Department of Defense.

Kittrie provided a summary of the traditional analysis of the international law on preemptive and preventive attacks, which centers on two provisions of the United Nations Charter and an exchange of letters relating to a U.S.-British dispute in 1837 over a ship named the Caroline. He addressed the question of whether a U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would meet the traditional test.

Kittrie also discussed the arguments to legally justify a preventive strike on a facility with weapons of mass destruction even if the traditional international law test is not met. Kittrie said he was not endorsing any of the arguments, but presenting them for discussion and predicting they would be used if the United States or its allies undertake a preventive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Kittrie is a leading expert on legal and policy issues relating to the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. He has testified on nonproliferation issues before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and recently served as one of 12 members of a special committee created by Congress to make recommendations on how to better prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Prior to joining the law faculty, Kittrie served for 11 years in the U.S. State Department, including as the lead attorney for nuclear affairs. He has been a guest speaker on nonproliferation issues of the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Belgian Royal Military Academy and the Royal Military College of Canada.