Armed Attacks and Imputation: Would a Nuclear Weaponized Iran Trigger Permissible Israeli and U.S. Measures of Self-Defense?

33 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2014

See all articles by Jordan J. Paust

Jordan J. Paust

University of Houston Law Center

Date Written: February 27, 2014

Abstract

This article addresses a pressing issue of global concern – whether Israel and the U.S. would have a right under international law to engage in measures of self-defense against Iran if Iran creates a nuclear warhead. The specific question is considered in connection with two more general issues regarding the law of self-defense – first, the question of when an armed attack has commenced, and second, the question of when non-state actor armed attacks can be imputed to a state for the purpose of measures of self-defense against the state. As the article notes, too few legal writers have paid detailed attention to various aspects of context that should be addressed when making realistic and policy-attentive decisions regarding whether an armed attack has begun. Further, too many legal writers have used the wrong test with respect to an interrelated issue of whether non-state actor armed attacks can be imputed to a state. With respect to imputation, this article provides detailed attention to circumstances of direct and complicit aggression by a state and clarifies the substantial involvement test.

Keywords: aggression, anticipatory, armed attack, article 51, attribution, Caroline, collective self-defense, effective control, Hamas, Hezbollah, imminent, imputation, Iran, Israel, Joint Plan, NNPT, nuclear weapon, Obama, red line, self-defense, substantial involvement

Suggested Citation

Paust, Jordan J., Armed Attacks and Imputation: Would a Nuclear Weaponized Iran Trigger Permissible Israeli and U.S. Measures of Self-Defense? (February 27, 2014). 45 Georgetown Journal of International Law 411-443 (2014); U of Houston Law Center No. 2014-A-5. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2402414

Jordan J. Paust (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

4604 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204-6060
United States

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