A Tiny David Sues the World's Nuclear Goliaths

Marshall Islands call for justice in non-proliferation treaty

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 24, 2014 7:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – The world's nuclear powers are getting hauled into international court by a tiny challenger. The Marshall Islands are suing the nine nuke-equipped countries in nine cases in the Hague—though the case against the US was also filed in a San Francisco federal court, Reuters reports. The Islands hold that the nuclear countries haven't kept their promise of disarmament, the Guardian reports. Despite a 1968 non-proliferation treaty, enough warheads to kill all life on Earth still exist, the Marshall Islands say: "The long delay in fulfilling the obligations enshrined in article VI of the NPT constitutes a flagrant denial of human justice."

The Islands have grounds to sue as the site of 67 nuke tests in the 1940s and 1950s, blasts that continue to take a toll on health and the environment. The nine countries targeted include the US, Russia, China, France, and the UK, all of which are cited in the 1968 treaty; the suits also cite India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel. "We must ask why these leaders continue to break their promises and put their citizens and the world at risk of horrific devastation," says Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who backs the suits. "This is one of the most fundamental moral and legal questions of our time." The case, however, may be a tall order, a consultant tells the AP: "I personally see it as kind of David and Goliath, except that there are no slingshots involved." (A scary recent story about US nuclear history involves "backpack nukes" carried by elite troops for 25 years.)

In this April 25, 2007 file photo, a woman gathers shellfish on an eroded beach on Majuro Atoll in the Marshall Islands.   (AP Photo/Rusty Middleton, File)
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