Islands’ Lawsuit Against Nuclear Powers Elicits Muted Response

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
April 25, 2014, 9:28 a.m.

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.”

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