8 Apr 2004

Marshalls missile range landowners reject government deal with US

4:29 pm on 8 April 2004

Marshall Islands landowners have refused to accept a new agreement that would extend the American presence at a missile range until 2066.

More than 4 thousand Kwajalein landowners have written to the government, saying their concerns have not been taken aboard.

In the Compact of Free Association recently approved by the US and Marshall Islands governments, the annual rent for the site of 11.3 million US dollars has been raised to 15 million dollars.

One of Kwajalein's leaders, Christopher Loeak, says the level of payment is unfair and there are environmental consequences that need to be addressed...

"And I just know that what they came up with is that very inadequate to resolve the ongoing problem and secure a viable future for the people of Kwajalein. What you see the people are continuing to live in squalor on Ebeye, there are a lot of social problems, also infrastructure problems that are making it really hard on the people there."

The Kwajalein landowners have asked both governments to begin discussions on the formulation of an exit strategy in anticipation of the current 2016 expiry.