Marshall Islands raises contradictions in nuclear case

10:32 am on 18 March 2016

A former Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands Tony de Brum has told an international court how children on Rongelap atoll ate radioactive fallout from the 1954 Bravo nuclear test thinking it was snow.

The International Court of Justice in The Netherlands has been conducting preliminary hearings in the Marshall Islands' anti-nuclear cases against India, Pakistan and the United Kingdom.

The Marshall Islands has accused the countries of breaching the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but India, Pakistan and the United Kingdom have argued the claims are not within the jurisdiction of the court and are inadmissible.

They say they support nuclear disarmament and they agree with the Marshall Islands about the need for a nuclear weapons-free world.

During the hearings from March 7 to 16 in The Hague, the Marshall Islands presented examples of behaviour which contradicted their claims.

The Marshall Islands lawyer Phon van den Biesen suggested India's test-firing of nuclear capable ballistic missiles during the hearings could be in contempt of court.

Mr de Brum told the court the Marshall Islands had come before it because of its belief in the rule of law.

The ICJ, consisting of 16 judges, will announce its decisions on whether the cases will go ahead at a date yet to be announced.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs