‘David Against Nuclear Goliaths': Nation Wages Legal Fight ‘for All Humanity’

Nuclear Bomb Mushroom CloudAndrea Germanos writes at Common Dreams:

In an unprecedented legal action, the small Pacific nation and former U.S. nuclear testing site of the Marshall Islands has filed lawsuits “on behalf of all humanity” at the International Court of Justice against the U.S. and 8 other nations for their “flagrant denial of human justice” by failing to work towards nuclear disarmament.

The nations cited by the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) are the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China — all parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well as nuclear-armed Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea — which are not parties to the NPT but which the challenge says are “bound by customary international law.”

In addition to the suits filed Thursday in The Hague against the 9 nations, an additional suit specifically calling out the United States was filed in U.S. Federal District Court.

A campaign site launched with the suits to garner support for the action explains that the RMI “knows firsthand the horror and consequences of living in a world with nuclear weapons.”

Between 1946 and 1958, the U.S. used the RMI as a testing ground for the equivalent of 1.5 Hiroshima bombs detonated daily during the 12 year-year period. The testing included the detonation of the infamous Castle Bravo, which was 1,000 times larger than the bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima. As journalist and writer Robert Koehler noted:

Not only did we expose many thousands of [Marshall Islanders] to ghastly — often lethal — levels of radiation with 67 nuclear blasts, with glaring evidence that at least some of the exposure was intentional, done for the purpose of studying the effects of radiation on human guinea pigs; not only did we wreck the Marshall Islanders’ way of life and pristine paradise, creating a nation of internal refugees confined to a Western-style slum on the island of Ebeye; not only did we cower, as a nation, from any real responsibility for what our fallout did to these people, settling our genocidal debt to them with $150 million “for all claims, past, present and future”; but also, throughout our dealing with them as nuclear conquistadors, we displayed a racism so profound, so cold-blooded, its exposure must forever shatter the myth of American exceptionalism.

“Our people have suffered the catastrophic and irreparable damage of these weapons, and we vow to fight so that no one else on earth will ever again experience these atrocities,” stated Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum. “The continued existence of nuclear weapons and the terrible risk they pose to the world threatens us all.”

Read more here.

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  • Oginikwe

    I used to volunteer to take seniors to their medical appointments and one day I had the opportunity to spend over four hours with a couple. The first two hours were spent talking with the wife about her childhood in Nazi Germany. Her mother had been helping to feed a Polish family while her father fought (and died) on the Russian lines. Her mother was reported and warned that no one would be left to care for her children–the wife regretfully wondered out loud about the Polish family. On the way back, her husband decided that he had tales to tell, too. He started telling me about being a soldier watching the the explosions of the first atomic bombs in New Mexico. Bewildered, he explained that they were given sunglasses to protect them, “They didn’t know what they were playing with,” he told me, “and neither did we. We thought it was some kind of light show.” And, yes, the reason for the trip in the first place was his brain cancer.

    • aaron

      I am not sure about direct quotes, but I have heard that multiple scientists that worked on the Manhattan Project regretted helping design the first atomic bomb after seeing the terribly destructive strength that it has because there was no way they could have predicted exactly what it was going to do. They didnt even really understand the radioactive aspect of the bomb until after they saw was it did to Japan and still is doing to people who’s DNA has been permanently damaged from radiation.

      • Oginikwe

        Yes. I read that they thought they were doing a great thing and bringing an end to war because it never occurred to them it would be just another “big gun” demanding an even bigger gun.

        • Cortacespedes

          That was the thinking of Richard Gatling MD, after the Civil War.

          “It occurred to me that if I could invent a machine – a gun – which could by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred, that it would, to a large extent supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease [would] be greatly diminished.”

          And we all know what happened after the invent of the ‘Gatling Gun’.

          The irony of history marches on.

          • Oginikwe

            Maybe we should embrace Sponge Bob’s “opposite day” and embrace war and just stop pretending to try to end it. Then everyone might lose interest and go home. Of course, if we took the money out of it (“War is a racket”), that might work too.

    • Anarchy Pony

      Didn’t some of the scientists think there was a possibility that the entire atmosphere would catch fire?

      • Oginikwe

        I don’t know: he gave me the soldier’s perspective on this. That would have been “interesting,” though. I wonder why they come up with these horrible scenarios yet decide “Aw, hell. Let’s do it anyway.”

        • Anarchy Pony

          That’s my question.

        • aaron

          Scientist: “it might catch the whole atmosphere on fire but we dont know”

          Politician: “well there is only one way to know for sure, let’s try it”

        • Rhoid Rager

          Same deal with nuke plants. Anonymous physicist: “Lots of government investment? More project funding in physics? Practical application of our chosen field of study? Storage of spent fuel for 250K years? Ah well, we’ll let the great-great-great grandkids deal with that.”

          • aaron

            At the rate were destroying the enviroment and raising mercury levels and acidity in the oceans and polluting our fresh water and top soils and atomosphere you can probably assume you wont need to have the first two “great” in front of the grandkids phrase cuz depending on your age this planet will probably be uninhabitable by the time your great-grandkids are old enough to have kids

  • aaron

    As much as I respect their cause and need to go to the international courts for this. Reporting this and taking it to the international courts is a alot like reporting illegal police activities to the police. The international court is basically controlled by the countries they are accusing.

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