Verfasst von: Dr. Who | 26.4.14

848 | US examining Marshall Islands‘ nuclear lawsuits

US examining Marshall Islands' nuclear lawsuits Photo: RIA

The United States said on Friday it was examining lawsuits filed by the Marshall Islands against it and eight other nuclear-armed countries that accuse them of failing in their obligation to negotiate nuclear disarmament. The Marshall Islands filed the lawsuits on Thursday in the United States and The Hague. The tiny republic in the Pacific Ocean was used for US nuclear tests in the 1950s.

The US State Department, however, defended the US record on disarmament and said its stockpile of nuclear arms had been cut by 80 percent since the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the NPT, took effect in 1970.

"The US is dedicated to achieving the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, consistent with our obligations under the (NPT)," the State Department said in a statement.

"We have a proven track record of pursuing a consistent, step-by-step approach to nuclear disarmament – the most recent example being the New START Treaty," the State Department said, referring to a 2010 nuclear arms reduction pact with Russia.

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, a US-based non-partisan advocacy group supporting the action by the Marshall Islands says the United States plans to spend an estimated $1 trillion on nuclear weapons in the next three decades and currently possesses nearly half of the world’s 17,300 warheads.

"We are pleased that the US is examining these suits, as they should," said Laurie Ashton, a lawyer for the Marshall Islands.

"The United States is spending hundreds of billions of dollars to modernize its nuclear weapons, which is the opposite of disarmament. Partial reductions to nuclear stockpiles don’t matter if we’re designing and building new weapons to take their place."

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Marshall Islands accuse US of nuclear disarmament failure at The Hague

Marshall Islands accuse US of nuclear disarmament failure at The HaguePhoto: RIA Novosti

An unprecedented legal action is taking place in the International Court of Justice at The Hague: the Marshall Islands sued the United States, arguing the global power has violated its legal obligation to dismantle its nuclear arsenal. It should be noted that the Pacific republic was the US nuclear testing range in 1950s: the United States carried out repeated tests of hydrogen and atomic bombs in the islands between 1946 and 1958

South African Nobel Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu praised the initiative of the Marshall Islands, according to the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. In his statement Desmond Tutu stressed that the failure to uphold important commitments and respect the law makes the world a more dangerous place.

The Marshall Islands addressed the nine global nuclear powers: the US, Russia, China, the UK, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel – accusing them of a “flagrant denial of human justice.” Nine separate cases have been brought before the ICJ today, the Guardian reports. The Pacific republic points out that its legal action against the countries is fully justified because it suffered a tremendous harm caused by the nuclear arm race.

One additional suit, specifically directed against the United States, has been sent to the Federal District Court in San Francisco, according to Reuters.

"We must ask why these leaders continue to break their promises and put their citizens and the world at risk of horrific devastation. This is one of the most fundamental moral and legal questions of our time," claimed the Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu.

In 1944 the Marshall Islands was occupied by Allied forces and fell under the US control in 1947. During the period from 1946 to 1958 the United States conducted 67 nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands, all of which were considered atmospheric. The largest of those tests was the one with a code-name “Bravo”: a 15 megaton device was detonated on March 1, 1954, at Bikini atoll. Experts claim that this only “Bravo” test was equivalent to 1,000 Hiroshima bombs. In 1956, the Marshall Islands were considered as "by far the most contaminated place in the world" by the United States Atomic Energy Commission.

"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,” said Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum, cited by Reuters. “The continued existence of nuclear weapons and the terrible risk they pose to the world threaten us all.”

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