|The "Baker" explosion, part of Operation Crossroads, a nuclear weapon test by the United States military at Bikini Atoll, Micronesia, on 25 July 1946.|
The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) yesterday continued its efforts to compel the United States government to comply with its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), asking a Federal Court judge to reject the U.S. government's claim that the treaty cannot be enforced.
On April 24, 2014, the Marshall Islands filed a lawsuit in U.S. Federal Court, alleging the United States has violated its moral and legal obligations under the NPT by refusing to negotiate in good faith toward complete nuclear disarmament.
On July 21, the U.S. responded to these allegations by filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the issue of U.S. compliance with the treaty is not subject to the Court's jurisdiction.
Yesterday, the RMI filed an Opposition to the U.S. motion to dismiss, explaining why the Court cannot and should not look the other way.
The brief explains, among other points, that RMI is not asking the Court to decide whether the United States should enter into the NPT, or whether the NPT is a good or a bad treaty for the United States. Instead, the Marshall Islands makes the legally grounded argument that while the Non-Proliferation Treaty is in effect and the U.S. is a party to it, there is no choice but for the U.S. to comply with it.
Additionally, the brief points to prior rulings in U.S. courts make it clear that it is the courts that determine compliance with the law, not the Executive. It points out that the U.S. Constitution says "ALL" treaties are the supreme law of this nation, not just some treaties, or the treaties the current President happens to prefer at any particular time. The NPT is a treaty, and under the plain language of our Constitution, the federal courts are charged with interpreting it, and resolving disputes involving it, such as this dispute.
Tri-Valley CAREs was called upon to file an Amicus Curiae brief regarding the proper venue in federal court. The RMI wishes to have the case heard in the Northern District of California, home to significant nuclear weapons research and development at Livermore Lab. However, the Government's Motion to Dismiss alleged that the nuclear weapons work at the Lab was tangentially related to NPT compliance and argued that the case should be dismissed for lack of venue, or in the alternative, be moved to Washington DC District Court. Tri-Valley CAREs brief describes the significant nuclear weapons work being done at Livermore and the legal basis for maintaining venue in the Northern District of Califonia as preferred by the RMI.
The RMI was used as the testing ground for 67 nuclear tests conducted by the United States from 1946 to 1958. These tests - equivalent to 1.7 Hiroshima bombs being exploded daily for 12 years - resulted in lasting health and environmental problems for the Marshall Islanders. The RMI Nuclear Zero lawsuit against the U.S. seeks no compensation, but rather, seeks action to commence and conclude negotiations for complete nuclear disarmament by 2020, thus ending the nuclear weapons threat for all humanity, now and in the future.
Tony de Brum, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Marshall Islands, emphasizes that the Marshallese 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."