Balancing Tradeoffs: Adaptability and Flexibility in the U.S. Legal Approach to Nuclear Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
Ladha, Rizwan R.
- Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Abstract: The United States has, over the past forty years, used a full spectrum of legal vehicles to overcome domestic political obstacles and advance its arms control and nonproliferation agenda. Namely, the United States has employed the formal treaty (in the cases ... read moreof START I and New START), the executive agreement (in the case of SALT I), the non-legally binding pledge (in the case of the Proliferation Security Initiative), and the unilateral action (in the case of the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives). Each of these vehicles offers certain benefits and constraints that can be judged on the basis of objective arms control and nonproliferation-specific criteria; at the same time, because international agreements are generally subject to some type of domestic approval process by a national legislative body, each mechanism presents a separate set of challenges with respect to the likelihood that an agreement would find domestic acceptance. This paper will argue that the United States has leveraged this full spectrum of legal mechanisms to overcome domestic political hurdles and continue making progress on arms control and nonproliferation. The legal flexibility of the U.S. approach to these issues has allowed it to insulate its arms control agenda from domestic politics; although that protection has sometimes come at the expense of the strength of individual agreements, the multi-pronged legal approach taken by the United States in its arms control and nonproliferation endeavors has been the most prudent one in the long term.read less