The United States had no immediate reaction to a lawsuit filed by a nation where it staged nuclear tests early in the Cold War, Reuters reports.
The Marshall Islands on Thursday announced legal actions against Washington and eight other governments it charged with "flagrant violation of international law," and demanded action by the countries to comply with international disarmament commitments.
The plaintiff country pursued legal steps specifically against Washington at the Federal District Court in San Francisco, and against all nine known and presumed nuclear-capable nations at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.
The Marshall Islands provided no advance warning to the governments it is suing, the Associated Press reported. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki did not respond on Thursday to a question on the legal steps, according to Reuters.
The 46-year-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty requires signatories in possession of atomic arsenals -- China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States -- to pursue "good faith" talks on nuclear disarmament.
In its case against the United States, the island republic called on Washington to act within 12 months of a possible favorable ruling "to comply with its obligations ... including by calling for and convening negotiations for nuclear disarmament in all its aspects."
The complainant said Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea also are "bound by [the treaty's] nuclear disarmament provisions under customary law," even though they are not part of the nonproliferation regime.
The case prompted a skeptical initial reaction from Israel, which has neither confirmed nor denied possessing nuclear weapons.
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson said he had not reviewed details about the island nation's legal actions, but suggested that its case against countries outside the Nonproliferation Treaty "doesn't have any legal legs."
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.