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Defining military activities in outer space: the launching of the Iranian satellite Nour 1

The Iranian satellite, Nour 1, operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was launched on 22 April 2020. The US Space Force (USSF) tracked Nour 1 and its final stage in orbit and added orbital tracking data and orbital parameters for two objects from the launch, the satellite and the rocket third stage, independently confirming the result of the launch and confirming the altitude in the 400-450 km range. According to an interview with the IRGC Air Force Space Commander, the satellite has an imaging mission. It could be argued that in addition to Iran’s Space Agency (ISA), which has been known for years, the IRGC now also has a space programme. In this post, we briefly discuss whether this launch is in violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) adopted on 18 October 2015 and implemented on 16 January 2016; the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 (UNSC Res. 2231), and the provisions of the Outer Space Treaty (OST) on peaceful uses of outer space. We highlight…

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The Extraterritorial Application of the Fair and Equitable Standard: The 1955 US-Iran Treaty of Amity before the International Court of Justice

Introduction In July 2018, Iran brought claims against the United States (US) before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The former alleged breaches of certain treaty provisions of the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Right between the United States of America and Iran (1955 Treaty) because of the latter’s (re)imposition of sanctions…

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Mistakes of Fact When Using Lethal Force in International Law: Part III

  To briefly recapitulate our examination of mistake of fact when using lethal force in various sub-fields of international law: such a doctrine is, in its purely subjective form, black letter law in international criminal law. It is also established (even if not labelled as such) in international human rights law and (somewhat less clearly) in international humanitarian…

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Mistakes of Fact When Using Lethal Force in International Law: Part II

  If a state believes that it is the target of an ongoing or imminent armed attack and uses force to repel that attack, but it later turns out that it was mistaken and that there either was no such attack or that there was no necessity to respond to it, is that use of force in putative…

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Mistakes of Fact When Using Lethal Force in International Law: Part I

  The tragic shooting down of the Ukrainian airliner over Tehran last week, which Iran has admitted to after several days of denial, has led me to think about a set of issues that was already on my mind when we were discussing the legality of the US strike on Soleimani. How exactly does international law…

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