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US-UK Mutual Defense Agreement: A Violation of International Law?

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By James McKeon: 

“The great alliance between the United States and the United Kingdom is rooted in shared interests and shared values,” President Obama proclaimed with UK Prime Minister David Cameron by his side. “And it’s indispensable to global security and prosperity.” Indeed, the United Kingdom and United States have been the closest of allies for quite some time, nowhere more so than with defense cooperation. And the main defense arrangement binding the two allies together – the US-UK Mutual Defense Agreement (MDA) – will almost certainly be renewed by the end of 2014, problematically without democratic debate in the United Kingdom and amid uncertainties affecting both countries about international treaty obligations.

There remains some doubt that the MDA is consistent with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Before the MDA is officially renewed, the United States and United Kingdom ought to publish separate legal opinions outlining their opinion on how the agreement conforms to their obligations as signatories of the NPT. Without legal justifications, the entire agreement’s conformity to the NPT would remain in doubt.

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Photo credit: Defence Images via flickr

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