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Marshall Islands to open legal assault on India & other nuclear powers

Accusing India, Pakistan and Britain for nuclear race in the world, Marshall Islands seeks to persuade the International Court of Justice to take up a lawsuit against them.

The International Court, announced for separate hearings for the three cases for March 7 to March 16. In the cases brought against India and Pakistan, the court will examine whether the tribunal based in The Hague is competent to hear the lawsuits. The hearing involving Britain will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.

In its complaint, Marshal Islands said that by not stopping the nuclear arms race, India & Pakistan continued to breach their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — even if the treaty has not been by signed by them.

Earlier, in 2014, the Marshall Islands accused nine countries, including China, Britain, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States, of “not fulfilling their obligations with respect to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.” But the court admitted only three cases brought against Britain, India and Pakistan because they already recognized the ICJ’s authority.

Of these 9, India, Pakistan, Israel & North Korea have not signed NPT.

Eight of the nine countries originally targeted in the lawsuits have officially admitted to possessing a nuclear weapon. Israel has never acknowledged having one, though observers believe it is the sole nuclear-armed nation in the Middle East.

Background of Marshall Islands move

  • In March 2014 the Marshall Islands marked 60 years since the devastating hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll that lay waste the island and exposed thousands in the surrounding area to radioactive fallout.
  • The 15-megatonne test on 1 March, 1954 was part of the intense cold war nuclear arms race and 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
  • Bikini Islanders have lived in exile since they were moved for the first weapons tests in 1946.
  • When US government scientists declared Bikini safe for resettlement some residents were allowed to return in the early 1970s. But they were removed again in 1978 after ingesting high levels of radiation from eating local foods grown on the former test site.
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