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U.S. Lawyers' Appeal on the Illegality of Trident and the Right to Oppose

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We, the undersigned lawyers, citizens of the United States,

Concerned that government nuclear weapons policies and practices threaten the lives and health of millions of protected persons, mostly non-combatants, and the very survival of the planet;

Noting that international law applicable in armed conflict prohibits the use of weapons which are indiscriminate, cause unnecessary suffering, violate neutral territory, or cause longterm and severe damage to the environment, and that international law also prohibits the threat or use of force except in limited circumstances of self defence;

Noting further that these prohibitions are derived from both customary international law, which is universally binding, and from specific treaties to which the U.S. is a party, including the Geneva and Hague Conventions and the United Nations Charter;

Recalling that the application of this body of law to nuclear weapons was reaffirmed by the International Court of Justice in its advisory opinion rendered on July 8, 1996 in which it, ipso facto, concluded that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law;

Recalling also that the court concluded unanimously that there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control;

Noting that each Trident submarine carries up to 24 missiles with five warheads of 100 - 450 kilotons explosive force, that each warhead is 5 - 25 times the explosive force of the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and that it would be impossible to use such a weapons system without violating the laws of warfare;

Believing that the deployment of such weapons systems during peacetime, and their maintenance on alert status, constitutes a threat of use of such weapons inconsistent with the conclusions of the International Court of Justice;

Noting that the U.S. government has made no efforts to amend its nuclear weapons policy or practice in light of the conclusions of the International Court of Justice;

Believing that the use of federal funds for the Trident system makes U.S. taxpayers unwillingly complicit in crimes of a most serious nature;

Recognizing that citizens have a right under Article VII of the Nuremberg Principles to ensure that violations of international law are not carried out on their behalf;

Therefore conclude that there is a right for U.S. citizens to inspect such facilities to determine whether their operation is in violation of international and domestic law.


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