• Top UN court to decide fate of Marshalls epic nuclear case

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    THE HAGUE: The UN’s highest court will rule Wednesday on whether to take up a case brought by the tiny Marshall Islands against India, Pakistan and Britain for allegedly failing to halt the nuclear arms race.

    The decision by the International Court of Justice will determine whether the David-versus-Goliath battle can continue to a full hearing, as Majuro seeks to shine a fresh spotlight on the threat of nuclear weapons.

    The tiny Pacific island nation was ground zero for a string of nuclear tests on its pristine atolls between 1946-58, carried out by the United States.

    So the country of 55,000 people maintains it can testify with authority about the devastating impact of such arms.

    Initially in 2014, Majuro accused nine countries of failing to comply with the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which seeks to inhibit the spread of atomic bombs.

    But the ICJ set up in The Hague in 1945 to rule on disputes between states will only determine whether it is competent to hear three cases — against Britain, India and Pakistan.

    The other countries — China, France, Israel, North Korea, Russia and the United States — have not recognized the court’s jurisdiction. Israel has also never formally admitted to having nuclear weapons.

    The Marshall Islands maintained that by not stopping the nuclear arms race Britain, India and Pakistan continued to breach their obligations under the treaty — even if New Delhi and Islamabad have not signed the pact.

    Majuro is calling for the three nuclear powers to take “all necessary measures” to carry out what it considers to be their obligations under the treaty.

    In 1996, the ICJ in another case issued a non-binding advisory opinion in which it urged the world’s nuclear powers to negotiate and reduce its stockpiles.

    AFP

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