Why MEI supports the Nuclear Lawsuits

Since the nuclear lawsuits were filed in April of 2014, we have posted frequently to keep you up-to-date with the latest news. The lawsuits initially referred to simply as the RMI Nuclear Lawsuits and appearing more frequently as the Nuclear Zero lawsuits, charge nine nuclear possessing states with violating the nonproliferation treaty, or in the case of the nations that acquired nuclear capabilities post-treaty, violating international law.

The court documents against all nine nations are posted online at the Nuclear Zero website.

All of the cases filed at the International Court of Justice are signed by RMI Foreign Minister Tony deBrum and Dutch attorney Phon van den Biesen, both of whom are listed as co-agents of the RMI.

The lawsuit against the United States filed in US Federal Court, which is probably the most intriguing given the relationship between the US-RMI, is filed by three attorneys from the law firm of Keller Rohrback on behalf of the RMI.

Nuclear Age Peace Foundation President David Krieger, Ph.D., J.D., is listed as the consultant to the RMI on the Nuclear Zero website. The NAPF is a non-profit organization that is advised by the likes of several high profile individuals from around the world, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Queen Noor of Jordan, Ted Turner, and the Dalai Lama.

Regardless of how the lawsuits came to be, they are now official, and the RMI is listed as the plaintiff.

Any rational individual understands the inherent dangers posed by nuclear weapons. Critics of nuclear disarmament claim that it would undermine deterrence. Others stress that if the United States and other Western states were to dismantle their arsenal, it would leave them defenseless against rogue states whose leadership is less than rational. The “civilized nations,” they argue, would be threatened.

Let us not forget that the only use of nuclear weapons in time of war was at the end of World War II, when the United States, the first to successfully detonate an atomic bomb, dropped two of them on Japan in August 1945.

But what about all those detonations of increasingly powerful nuclear weapons in time of peace? Does the fact that a weapon was detonated during peacetime make it no less dangerous? How did the “civilized” nations select locations for testing? Documents reveal that US policymakers selected the Marshall Islands because of their location and the fact that their inhabitants were unwitting natives whose relocation to different islands would make no real difference in their lives. Or, in the words of US Rep. James Van Zandt (R-PA), when the Marshallese population was exposed to radiation as a result of Castle Bravo, “The natives ought to benefit–they got a couple of good baths.”

This arrogance by “civilized” nations should be acknowledged and the consequences of nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands–a story often forgotten in the debate–must be told.

As stated in the lawsuit filed in US Federal Court:

“…the Marshall Islands has a particular awareness of the dire consequences of nuclear weapons. The Marshall Islands was the location of repeated nuclear weapons testing from 1946 to 1958, during the time that the international community had placed it under the trusteeship of the U.S. During those 12 years, approximately 67 nuclear weapons, of varying explosive power, were detonated in the Marshall Islands, at varying distances from human populations.

According to the September 3, 2012 Report of Calin Georgescu, a Special Rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Council, the devastating adverse impact on the Marshall Islands of those nuclear substances and wastes continues to this day.

….

To be clear, this Complaint is not directed at compensation for such testing or its continuous effects, nor at the continuing testing in the Marshall Islands by the U.S. of its nuclear weapons delivery systems. This background is provided to explain in part the Marshall Islands’ first-hand experience of the long term lethal effects of nuclear weapons….”

MEI was created to work with the Marshallese population to better their lives. Our mission is to create awareness of Marshallese history and culture and to facilitate cross-cultural dialogue. Thus, MEI is naturally aligned with any progressive cause that provides a platform from which to tell the Marshallese story. In this case, that story includes the legacy of US nuclear testing and its impact upon the Marshallese people.