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BOLD: Marshall Islands sues 9 nuclear powers in int'l court for not pursuing disarmament

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The blast from the hydrogen bomb "Castle Bravo,"detonated at Bikini Atoll in 1954, is still causing adverse effects on the Marshallese people.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – In a political move that is incredibly bold, the tiny Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands is taking on the United States and the world’s eight other nuclear-armed nations with a lawsuit in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands that is sending shockwaves around the world: the long-suffering Marshallese people are demanding that these nations live up to their obligations regarding nuclear disarmament.

As we have reported here a number of times at Red Dirt Report, the Marshall Islands were used as a proving ground for nuclear-weapons tests following World War II. These days, the Republic of Marshall Isalnds is in free association with the United States and often votes the way the U.S. does at the United Nations.

As we wrote in 2013: “The legacy of radiation exposure on the Marshallese is a dark chapter in American history. It is one that has yet to be fully exposed and many Marshallese still suffer from the atomic-bomb tests conducted in the Marshall Islands from the 1940’s to the 1960’s.”

The remote group of islands has been devastated by its atomic legacy  following the 67 nuclear tests over a 12-year period, and many Marshallese have sought life in other parts of the Pacific, including Hawaii, as well as finding work on the mainland United States in towns like Springdale, Arkansas and Enid, Oklahoma.

And because of the nuclear fallout the Marshallese endured, as well as the widespread radioactive contamination on its many atolls, it is understandable that the Marshall Islands government is concerned that the nine nations – which, in addition to the U.S. also includes Russia, India, Pakistan, North Korea, France, China, Britain, and Israel – have committed “flagrant violations” of international law by modernizing their nuclear arsenals instead of negotiating nuclear disarmament.

Of that group, four – Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea – did not sign onto the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, a treaty that was extended indefinitely in 1995.

And today being the 28th anniversary of the meltdown of Chernobyl in the Soviet Union, we see Voice of Russia reporting today that a Kazakh political analyst, Dauren Aben, has said the Marshall Islands’ “historic claim” is important at this time of uncertainty on the planet. Aben notes that only Russia and the U.S. have “partially” fulfilled their obligations to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, while the others have done little at all.

Below is a segment of Aben’s answers to Voice of Russia’s questions regarding this important development:

Q: What are the chances that the Marshall Islands might win a suit? And actually, what could they possibly win? I mean would they get sanctions against these countries or what?

A: “The suit against the nuclear powers came as a big surprise, but, on the other hand, the timing is very well chosen, I believe. And I can give at least two reasons.

First, when crisis over the Crimea began the politicians and experts worldwide recalled the Budapest Memorandum and insisted that Russia – one of the major nuclear powers – violated its security assurances to Ukraine. And some even said that Ukraine shouldn’t have joined the NPT and that it would have been more secure against any foreign intervention if it had kept its nuclear arsenal back in the 1990s. So, the Marshall Islands suit can be a step taken to show everyone once again that there is a low military utility in nuclear weapons.

Second, let’s not forget that next year the states, parties to the NPT will convene for the review conference, which is expected to be highly contentious. So, nuclear disarmament or I should say the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament is going to be high on the agenda of the conference.

So, I would say the major issue here is not about the possible sanctions or a new treaty, I think it is an attempt to bring the issue of the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament to the international agenda.”

Red Dirt Report will continue to report on this important story and press the need for full, across-the-board nuclear disarmament across the world.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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