Sagan on the 'nuclear necessity' principle

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Scott Sagan speaks during a class simulation for "The Ethics and Law of War," a 2012 class he co-taught with Stanford law professor Allen Weiner. In a new podcast with the Carnegie Council, Sagan urges that major changes must be made if U.S. nuclear war plans are to conform to the principles of just war doctrine and the law of armed conflict.
Photo credit: 
CISAC

In this podcast with the Carnegie Council, CISAC's Scott Sagan says that major changes must be made if U.S. nuclear war plans are to conform to the principles of just war doctrine and the law of armed conflict. He proposes a new doctrine: "the nuclear necessity principle." In sum, the U.S. will not use nuclear weapons against any target that could be reliably destroyed by conventional means.

In 2016, Sagan co-authored an op-ed in The Washington Post on this topic: "It is time to turn nuclear common sense into national policy. A declaration that the United States would never use nuclear weapons when conventional weapons could destroy the target could reduce the number of nuclear weapons we need for legitimate deterrence purposes. Placing conventional weapons at the center of debates about the future of deterrence would also help focus the policy discussion on plausible scenarios with realistic plans for the use of U.S. military power. And it would more faithfully honor the just-war principles of distinction, necessity and proportionality, by placing them at the heart of our deterrence and security policies, where our highest ideals belong."