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Why a Nuclear Weapons Ban is Unethical (For Now): NATO and the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons Initiative

Heather Williams
RUSI Journal, 28 April 2016
Proliferation and Nuclear Policy
There should be ethical common ground between NATO and the Humanitarian Impacts Initiative where both parties acknowledge the consequences of nuclear-weapons use and the legitimate security concerns of states

The Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons Initiative and ongoing tension between NATO and Russia have put the morality of nuclear weapons back under the spotlight. The new strategic environment suggests an opportunity to revisit principles of nuclear ethics, including the connection with security and the responsibility to pursue arms control and disarmament. Heather Williams argues that for NATO, that means balancing the need for nuclear assurances with a commitment to disarmament and engaging with the Humanitarian Impacts Initiative, perhaps by having a NATO nuclear possessor host the next conference. For the Humanitarian Impacts Initiative, meanwhile, it means abandoning pursuit of a nuclear-weapons ban and re-focusing on survivor testimonies as part of nuclear education and consequence-management scenarios. A nuclear-weapons
ban at this time, though well intentioned, would ignore states’ security concerns and has the potential to undermine other disarmament efforts.

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