In 1837, sailors of Great Britain's Royal Navy sank the American ship the Caroline over Niagra Falls. Great Britain justified the incident the preemptive strike as an act of self-defense. Diplomats of the two nations negotiated a legal framework to guide future preemptive uses of force. In the face of twenty-first century nuclear weapons, however, the Caroline framework seems outdated and impractical. To date, Iran continues to develop their nuclear program, while refusing international inspectors full access to their centrifuges. The United States is committed to keeping a nuclear weapon out of Iran's hands. The United States and Iran need a modern preemptive use of force framework to guide their nuclear negotiations. This article addresses pertinent issues relating to the subject, including a hypothetical exchange on Iran's nuclear program between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif. Furthermore, this article proposes a legal framework to guide preemptive uses of force in the nuclear age.
Caroline Revisited: An Imagined Exchange between John Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif, 2 Penn. St. J.L. & Int’l Aff. 293 (2013).
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