Post-E- Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty Problems: are Emerging Weapons Technologies and the Legal Ambiguities Intertwined

Ahmet Ceran

Since the close of 2019, the situation is becoming apparent in various conflict areas like Syria, Libya, and the South China Sea. Emerging or established arms capabilities are tested, deployed, and operationalized, then multiplied through new players, proxies, or dominant power in these crucial engagement zones. This hazardous outlook has brought a range of legal tools for controlling arms to the forefront when non-proliferation and international convergence regimes face serious difficulties. First, we heard of an ongoing debate about using missiles launched from the ground that was prohibited under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), terminated in August of this year, and spanning various domains that range from California through Asia Pacific or Russian military establishments. In the meantime, we witnessed a legally debated use of uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the aftermath of the suicide bombing by Iranian general Qasem Suleimani. The developments of 2019 make it ever more impossible to overlook the emergence of weapons technologies as crucial factors of the legal framework in international law.

The decline and rise of a critical non-proliferation instrument, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, demonstrated that the rapid evolution of technology -artificial Intelligence (AI) along with uncrewed cars, in particular, are bringing a degree of confusion and confusion to the current international human rights law and non-proliferation discussions. For instance, in some cases, state parties legally determine and interpret new weapons technologies differently than others. This creates additional legal ambiguities, particularly when the issue may have illegitimate implications. So, a more thorough analysis of the particular conflicting scenario of whether UAVs meet the definition of the term “missile” within the INF Treaty framework and other unclear cases could be an excellent starting idea to provide some preliminary knowledge and “text-book” principles.

Differentiated interpretations Technology, the confusion

The 1987 INF Treaty was a historic agreement between the USA and Russia that prohibited the testing and production of ballistic/cruise missiles based on land and their launchers, having the capability to cover a range of 500-5,000 km. However, the ongoing dispute over the treaty and the increasing tension resulted in the end of this crucial non-proliferation instrument post-Cold War in August 2019. Both sides released several official statements addressing compliance issues for the other party before the end.

In the pertinent press announcements, the Russian side stated that the United States’s few Armed UAVs are in the category of cruise missiles launched from the the ground. So, any ground-launched and weapons UAVs ranging from 500 km to 5,500 km violates the treaty. However, according to to the USA s,ide, the term “missile” points to one-way systere in the accord. However, arm-swapping UAVs used by US authorities USA are two-way, reusable systems. In this sense,, the USA declared that the armored UAVs aren’t under the INF Treaty’s authority. It is an excellent illustration of how various states can conceptualize technical configurations differently. The debate about whether UAVs are subject to the authority in the INF Treaty shows the problems in coming up with a clear legal definition of new weapons technology.

Similar circumstances in which the majority of state parties are experiencing issues in determining an internationally accepted legal definition were observed between April 2018 and August 2018 with a date of Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) sessions regarding lethal, autonomous weapon technology (LAWS). The GGE for LAWS is a group that was formed within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and includes national delegations, experts in technical fields practitioners, and the international civil society since its creation following the fifth review conference of the CCW in the year 2016. CCW is now considered a reliable tool for preventing or restricting the use of CCW and is now regarded as a legitimate legal instrument that can prohibit or limit any use of weaponry that cause unnecessary or unreasonable suffering.

To that end, in 2018, the GGE met to discuss LAWS-related matters two times, with the agenda focusing on the characterization of concepts, the consideration of human factors, possible applications in the military, and legal issues. Although LAWS are an effective tool to gain an advantage in battle, many people have raised grave legal matters.

If the CCW’s debate over LAWS is considered, there is a legal ambiguity due to the absence of any legally agreed term for autonomous weapons systems, as expressed in the GGE of 2018 regarding LAWS conclusion. Different states have various degrees of autonomy to be the level at which a threat is considered to be to IHL. The differing understanding evidently can result in different interpretations. In this regard, the insightful research from Kenneth W. Abbott and Duncan Snidal explains the reasons for ambiguity in certain situations according to the following: ” States can limit sovereignty costs through arrangements that are nonbinding or imprecise or do not delegate extensive powers.” Thproof is more evident in the context of research circles studying soft law. Notably, some of the examples discussed with Shirley Scott, which were also quoted in the work of Douglas Guilfoyle, give significant clues to the fact that the legally indefinite and non-binding legal sources for soft law go in the best of times.

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