Reviving nuclear claims

Hundreds of students and other local residents turned out for a march to mark the 62nd anniversary of the Bravo hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll. The march segued into an official commemoration ceremony with speeches by President Heine, US Ambassador Tom Armbruster, and nuclear survivors. Photo: Hilary Hosia.
Hundreds of students and other local residents turned out for a march to mark the 62nd anniversary of the Bravo hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll. The march segued into an official commemoration ceremony with speeches by President Heine, US Ambassador Tom Armbruster, and nuclear survivors. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

The Marshall Islands is set to take action to revive its nuclear compensation claims with the US government and to seek global recognition of March 1 as an international day of remembrance for victims of nuclear testing programs.

These were key points highlighted by President Hilda Heine at Tuesday’s Nuclear Survivors Remembrance Day event at Delap Park. The speeches followed a spirited walk from the ECC to the park. Aside from gaining support from the national and local government, the March 1 event was supported by the local NGO Jo Jikum — which generated evident youth participation — the four atolls recognized as nuclear test affected, and the new nuclear-focused NGO, REACH-MI.

President Heine said the Compact of Free Association’s compensation agreement that states the funding provided by the US government is “full and final” is based on an unfair negotiation in which the Marshall Islands had no access to US studies showing the widespread extent of radioactive fallout.

A 1955 report about Operation Castle, which included the Bravo hydrogen bomb test and five other large detonations, “includes data documenting that most atolls in the Marshall Islands sustained significant radiation doses during that series of tests and that the weapons detonated after Bravo created greater fallout than Bravo at many atolls,” said Heine.But that secret report about Operation Castle was declassified more than 10 years after the (Compact’s) Section 177 Agreement was signed.”

The President promised that the RMI government will revisit the “changed circumstances petition” submitted to the United States Congress in 2000 “with the aim of re-submitting the same or a newer modified version of the CCP before the Congress goes into recess in December.” She also said it is her aim to get the United Nations designate March 1 as the “International Day of Remembrance for Victims and Survivors of Nuclear Weapons Testing Programs.”

Read more about this in the March 4, 2016 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.

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