The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) have launched a lawsuit in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against those countries that maintain a nuclear arsenal. Nine countries have been named in the UN court. The RMI allege that these countries are reneging on the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty designed to curb nuclear weapons and eventually eliminate them.
The countries named in the suit are: USA, India, Pakistan, UK, France, Russia, China, N. Korea and Israel. Israel consistently denies owning nuclear weapons, but it is commonly believed that they acquired the technology from S. Africa.
RMI was made a protectorate of the US at the end of the War in the Pacific. Since then, some of its coral atolls have been used for testing bombs and missiles. 1946 saw the first of the tests. In order to test the atomic weapons, the residents of the Bikini Atoll were removed and relocated to another island.
The atmospheric testing continued until 1958, with a total of 67 atomic explosions tested on Bikini and Enowetak atolls. The largest of the tests was a massive hydrogen bomb which was equivalent to 15 million tons of TNT.
That hydrogen bomb flare could be seen as far away as Okinawa and radiation was detected as far away as Tennessee. A Japanese fishing crew at only 60 miles away was showered with radioactivity. The radio operator died shortly after of multiple organ failure. Most of the crew died from cancers.
Marshall Islanders on two islands were irradiated as well. Radioactive ash contaminated Rongelap and Utirik. Those islanders had to be evacuated and relocated on other, already occupied, islands.
In the 1970s the residents of Rongelap were allowed to return but had to pick up stakes and be re-evacuated when alarming levels of radiation were detected in their food grown on the island. Utirik remains uninhabited. Those surviving irradiated residents receive a stipend from the US government of about $588 per year.
The leading cause of death on the RMI is diabetes. The second is cancer. There is no permanent oncologist. There is no regular ability to administer chemotherapy or other advanced cancer fighting techniques.
The US still uses Kajalein Atoll for missile testing. Non-nuclear missiles are sometimes fired from California and sometimes they are fired from the mid-Pacific towards California for interception practise.
The Marshall Islands Nuclear Claims Tribunal awarded more than $2bn in personal injury and land damage claims arising form the nuclear tests but stopped paying after a compensation fund was exhausted. The Guardian
The Cold War was a grim period that saw The Soviet Union, the US, UK and France testing atomic bombs in the atmosphere.
International Court of Justice
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