This essay addresses a legal question: "Under the United Nations Charter, how might the United States justify a preemptive strike on a rogue nation's nuclear weapon development facilities?" The essay answers this question by arguing that the United States would not have to rely on controversial theories like "self-defense in response to an imminent attack" or "anticipatory self-defense." On the contrary, as this essay demonstrates with numerous recent and widely-publicized examples, the nations that the United States most likely would strike, Iran and North Korea, constantly are engaging in conventional armed attacks and other aggression against allies of the United States. Provided that certain likely conditions are met, these hostile actions conceivably could justify the United States in using military force against these nations' nuclear weapon development facilities under historically-accepted interpretations of the United Nations Charter.
GW Paper Series
GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 373; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 373
Gregory E. Maggs, How the United States Might Justify a Preemptive Strike on a Rogue Nation's Nuclear Weapon Development Facilities Under the U.N. Charter, 57 Syracuse L. Rev. 465 (2007).