Observations on the Greenock Decision

By Prof. Francis A. Boyle

CHAMPAIGN, IL --Right now the entire British nuclear "deterrent" consists of the Trident II nuclear submarines, missiles and warheads located in Scotland right down the road from Greenock. In October, after an extensive trial, a Scottish Judge ruled that the Trident IIs were illegal under international law, UK law and Scottish law. This is what we hockey parents call a "hat trick"*three goals in one game. In other words, the entire British nuclear weapons establishment now stands condemned as illegal under international law, UK law and Scottish law.

Britain is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Britain is also one of the five nuclear weapons states party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This gross illegality of the entire British nuclear weapons establishment under international law, UK law and Scottish law shall stand unless and until the Greenock decision is overturned on appeal.

This gives us a remarkable window of opportunity to use the Greenock decision in order to go after the nuclear weapons establishments in all the other nuclear weapons states. Since the entire British nuclear weapons establishment stands condemned as illegal, the nuclear weapons establishments in all the other nuclear weapons states are also illegal under international law, their respective constitutions and domestic law for similar reasons. In particular and most specifically, we should be able to use the Greenock decision to go directly after the Trident IIs deployed by the United States, as well as the nuclear weapons submarines deployed by the other nuclear-armed permanent members of the Security Council. We should also be able to use the Greenock decision to head off the threatened nuclear arming of Japan and any other state giving serious consideration to developing nuclear weapons. We should also be able to use the Greenock decision to stop the further development of the nuclear weapons establishment in Israel, India and Pakistan. We should be able to use the Greenock decision to set free Mordechai Vanunu.

We should be able to use the Greenock decision to kill any proposed new nuclear weapons systems of whatever type; for example, the so-called Stockpile Stewardship Program in the U.S. and its equivalent elsewhere. We should also be able to use the Greenock decision to shore up the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty after the blow the U.S. government inflicted upon it.

Obviously, there is no way I can spell out all the implications of the Greenock decision in this message. But I think you get my point. I leave it to your creativity to figure out how to use the Greenock decision in order to rid the entire world of nuclear weapons.

*Professor Francis A. Boyle, Univ. of Illinois, College of Law.