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The Rule of Law

New York Times, Letters, August 13, 2000


To the Editor:

    "America in the World" (editorial, Aug. 7) proposes that encouraging the rule of law in Russia and China "should be among the primary goals of the next president." Fair enough. But should the rule of law also play a part in our foreign policy?

You say "the Pentagon can safely eliminate thousands of nuclear weapons... but must maintain enough to discourage attack." The first part of that statement is welcome, but the second invites the United States to set an example of lawbreaking.

The nonproliferation treaty obliges us to negotiate in good faith for nuclear disarmament. The International Court of Justice has interpreted this to mean complete nuclear disarmament.

And at the United Nations in May, the United States solemnly signed on to an "unequivocal undertaking" to eliminate its nuclear arsenal. The Pentagon's continuing reliance on nuclear deterrence flouts this legal obligation.

New York, Aug. 7, 2000
The writer is president of the Lawyers'
Committee on Nuclear Policy.

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