16 Sep 2004

Marshall Island leaders angry over latest US cut backs.

8:18 pm on 16 September 2004

Marshall Island leaders have criticised the United States for cutting back on medical and environmental monitoring programmes.

US officials this week announced major budget cuts in programmes that have been funded to address health and environmental monitoring needs of islanders who were affected by the 67 American nuclear tests conducted from 1946 to 1958.

At the annual two day review of US Department of Energy programmes in the Marshall Islands which began yesterday, Foreign Minister Gerald Zackios said the Marshall Island's government was appalled by the US government's decision.

James Matayoshi, the mayor of Rongelap, a necklace of coral islands that was engulfed by high level fallout from the 1954 Bravo hydrogen bomb test at Bikini, said the people of Rongelap feel they have been bombed again.

Mr Matayoshi said this budget bomb threatens to blow up all the progress that the US has made in improving the health and welfare of the people of Rongelap.

The US Ambassador to the Marshall Islands, Greta Morris, said the department needed to respond to budget constraints and she asked all participants to show a spirit of cooperation.