Nukewatch Quarterly Fall 2015
The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) submitted an Appeal Brief on July 13 to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, continuing its legal battle calling on the US to fulfill its obligation for total nuclear disarmament under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and customary international law. Judge Jeffrey White granted the US government’s motion to dismiss the RMI’s original Nuclear Zero lawsuit on February 3 on jurisdictional grounds, skirting the question of US treaty compliance. As the RMI Brief states, “The District Court misapplied the law, misconstrued the harm alleged and the relief sought by the Marshall Islands, and inappropriately construed inferences in the Executive’s [the Executive Branch of the US government] favor.”
The US conducted 67 nuclear weapons tests in the Marshall Islands from 1946 to 1958, which were equivalent to the exploding of 1.6 Hiroshima bombs daily during the 12 year period. Though Marshall Islanders have suffered the devastating consequences of this severe radioactive contamination, the Nuclear Zero lawsuit seeks disarmament rather than monetary compensation.
According to Laurie Ashton, the RMI’s lead attorney in the US case, “The Marshall Islands, like every NPT party, is entitled to the fulfillment of the United States’ promise to negotiate complete nuclear disarmament. But while the United States has the world focused on nonproliferation measures across the globe, it is in flagrant breach of its obligation to negotiate complete nuclear disarmament. It refuses to discuss any timetable whatsoever to achieve nuclear disarmament, and is instead actually modernizing its nuclear arsenal with new capabilities to last decades into the future at a budget of approximately $1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion dollars). The lawsuit brings these breaches to Court, forcing the US to respond in public.”
Supporters of the RMI appeal, including Tri-Valley CAREs, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Pax Christi International, have submitted five amicus curiae briefs stating their disagreement with the court’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit. Mayors from six US cities also submitted their own amicus curiae letter in favor of the appeal.
—Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, July 13 & Aug. 1, 2015