UN Top Court Throws Out Marshall Islands’ Nuclear Case Against India

Written by | October 5, 2016 | 0

The Hague: The UN’s highest court on Wednesday threw out a bid by the tiny Marshall Islands to sue India for failing to halt the nuclear arms race, saying it lacked jurisdiction.

“The court upholds the objection to jurisdiction raised by India… and finds that it cannot proceed to the merits of the case,” judge Ronny Abraham told the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The country of 55,000 people had taken India, Pakistan and Britain to court, arguing they have failed to comply with the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

It was not immediately clear if the case against Pakistan and Britain had also met the same fate.

Initially the lawsuit was even more ambitious, also including China, France, Israel, North Korea, Russia and the United States , none of which recognised the ICJ’s jurisdiction on the matter.

The Marshalls has a long, bitter history with nuclear weapons, making it one of the few nations that can argue with credibility before the ICJ about their impact.

The island nation was ground zero for 67 American nuclear weapons tests from 1946-58 at Bikini and Enewetak atolls, when it was under US administration.

The tests included the 1954 “Bravo” hydrogen bomb, the most powerful ever detonated by the United States, about 1,000 times bigger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

They fed into an apocalyptic zeitgeist in Cold War popular culture, giving a name to the bikini swimsuit and leading to the development of Japan’s Godzilla movie monster.

In “Godzilla”, the creature is awakened by a hydrogen bomb test, rising from a roiling sea to destroy Tokyo, in a walking, radiation-breathing analogy for nuclear disaster.

On the Marshall Islands, the impacts of the nuclear tests were all too real.

Numerous islanders were forcibly evacuated from ancestral lands and resettled, while thousands more were exposed to radioactive fallout.

Tony deBrum, a former Marshall Islands foreign minister, launched the Marshall’s ICJ action in 2014 with cooperation from the California-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

His actions prompted the International Peace Bureau to nominate him in January for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, which is yet to be awarded.

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