Marshall Islands Challenges Nine Nuclear Armed States in World Court Lawsuits


Runs 5/16/14 through 5/23/14

(THEME UP AND UNDER)  This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety.  Here is this week’s top headline:

*  Marshall Islands Challenges Nine Nuclear Armed States in World Court Lawsuits

Late last month the Republic of the Marshall Islands filed nine unprecedented lawsuits in the International Court of Justice to hold the nine nuclear-armed states accountable for flagrant violations of international law contained in the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and customary international law.  The island nation, which was used for 12 years as an above-ground nuclear weapons testing site for the U.S., is not seeking compensation for the damages to their health and environment, but for declaratory and injunctive relief requiring the nine nuclear-armed states to comply with their treaty obligations.  A related lawsuit was also filed suit in the U.S. Federal District Court in San Francisco.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands is an island country located in the northern Pacific Ocean with a population of about 70,000 people living on 24 low-lying coral atolls.  The Republic is part of the larger island group of Micronesia.  Between 1946 and 1958, the U.S. conducted 67 nuclear weapons tests there, including the 1954 “Castle Bravo” test which was 1,000 times greater than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, Japan in 1945.

The lawsuits declare that the five original nuclear weapons states – the U.S., Russian, United Kingdom, France and China – are continuously breaching their legal obligations under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  This article requires that the nations pursue negotiations “in good faith” for an end to the nuclear arms race “at an early date” and for nuclear disarmament.  The five original nuclear weapons states are parties to the treaty, but they continue to ignore their obligations.  The four newer nuclear-armed nations – Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea – are not parties to the treaty, but are bound by these nuclear disarmament provisions under customary international law. The lawsuits contend that all nine nuclear-armed nations are violating customary international law and detail their efforts to modernize their arsenals while failing to negotiate nuclear disarmament.  They plan to spend $1 trillion in the next decade on their arsenals.

The Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, Tony de Brum, said, “Our people have suffered the catastrophic and irreparable damage of these weapons, and we vow to fight so that no one else on earth will ever again experience these atrocities.  The continued existence of nuclear weapons and the terrible risk they pose to the world threatens us all.”

On April 29th, Bill Kidd, a member of the Scottish Parliament, and Vice-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, introduced a motion in the Scottish Parliament in support of the lawsuits.  To add your support, please sign the petition at, an effort of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

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