Gaela Normile


As a result of the Manhattan Project, a secret nuclear weapons program in 1946, the United States became the first nation in the world to secure a nuclear weapon. Although the United States’ nuclear weapon resulted in an international desire to attain similar capabilities, the leading scientists of the Manhattan Project released a somber statement that first reflected the destructive nature of nuclear weapons. The Manhattan Project scientists warned that a “grave danger lies ahead” if the issues associated with the weapon were not “carefully analyzed and discussed with competent authorities.”

The statement released by the Manhattan Project scientists was the first express statement made about the dangers that accompany nuclear weapons and, incidentally, nuclear proliferation. The scientists’ grave prediction came to fruition one month later, when two nuclear bombs killed over 250,000 Japanese civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

After the World War II nuclear bombings, the Soviet Union secured a nuclear weapon followed by the United Kingdom, France, and China. Fearing further proliferation and possible catastrophic results if the nuclear bomb fell into the wrong hands, the international community began to heed to the Manhattan Project scientists’ warnings by carefully analyzing and discussing nuclear non-proliferation. International discussions led to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1970. Currently, the NPT is the largest binding arms and limitation agreement as 191 out of 193 States are party to the treaty.

This Comment will argue that nuclear non-proliferation has attained jus cogens status because of both its shared fundamental importance in the international community as well as its universal acceptance and adherence. Ultimately, this Comment will analyze the opinio juris that surrounds the norm, relevant treaties and resolutions, and ad hoc investigations that contribute to the jus cogens status of the norm.



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