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Letter from Nuclear Abolition Days to NATO on Illegality of NATO Nuclear Policy

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The Nuclear Abolition Days Network
calls for NATO, as a nuclear alliance, to:

* declare a policy of no first use of nuclear weapons

* promote a European Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in Central Europe

* cease violating Articles I & II of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by maintaining US nuclear weapons in European NATO states

* practice democracy by allowing Non-Governmental Organisations to participate in its nuclear policy making

* take their nuclear weapons off alert

* separate warheads from their delivery vehicles

* start negotiations at the latest by the year 2000 for a Convention Banning Nuclear Weapons

To Javier Solana,

Secretary General, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation,             NATO Headquarters, 1110 Brussels, Belgium.

Dear Javier Solana

On the 8 July 1996 the International Court of Justice, drawing on international agreements such as the 1868 Declaration of St Petersburg, the 1907 Hague Conventions, the 1946 Nuremberg Principles, the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and its 1977 Additional Protocols, issued its Advisory Opinion on the legal status of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. This confirmed that the principles of international humanitarian law apply to nuclear weapons, and that even in self defence these principles must not be violated. These principles prohibit the threat or use of weapons which:

  • fail to discriminate between military and civilian targets
  • cause disproportionate harm
  • cause unnecessary suffering
  • seriously affect neutral states
  • cause widespread, long-lasting and severe environmental damage.

There is every reason to assume that the nuclear weapons deployed by NATO would violate these stringent legal constraints. Evidence to confirm or refute this assumption would include:

  • the number and type of nuclear weapons at NATO's disposal
  • their explosive power and destructive capacity
  • an evaluation by the NATO's nuclear planners of the capacity of these weapons, if used, to comply with the constraints of international humanitarian law
  • the likely targets they would be used against

General statements on nuclear policy by NATO do not provide sufficient assurance that the Alliance is acting lawfully. As concerned citizens we have the duty to make every effort in our power to ascertain the necessary information. Therefore, an international War Crimes Inspection Team will arrive at NATO Headquarters on the morning of 27 May 1999. The members would welcome a meeting with you, or a senior member of NATO staff, with the object of furthering their investigations into this matter.

We look forward to your early reply

Yours sincerely







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