Foreign minister of Marshall Islands urges nuclear weapon states to disarm at NPT PrepCom

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

New York – Representatives of national governments held a general discussion on April 28 during the third session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, now taking place at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The representative from the Marshall Islands urged the nuclear powers to disarm, saying, “It is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances.” The Marshall Islands has filed lawsuits at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands, against the nuclear weapon states, arguing that they are in violation of international law with respect to their nuclear disarmament obligations.

Tony de Brum, the foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, who has filed the lawsuits together with NGOs, recounted his experience witnessing the flash of the hydrogen bomb blast at Bikini Atoll in 1954. The crew members of a Japanese tuna fishing boat called the Daigo Fukuryu Maru (“The Lucky Dragon No. 5”) were also exposed to radioactive fallout from this bomb. Mr. de Brum decried the slow process of nuclear disarmament: “It is as though the world has lost true focus of this nuclear threat. International law – and legal obligations – are not hollow and empty words on a page, but instead the most serious form of duty and commitment between nations.”

Mr. de Brum later took part in a panel discussion sponsored by NGOs at U.N. Headquarters. Before some 100 officials of national governments, he stated that the lawsuits were filed in the interest of humanity so that no one will be forced to endure the same kinds of suffering. Interviewed by the Chugoku Shimbun, he commented that support from the people of Hiroshima, who know the same pain, would be encouraging, and that he hopes to continue working together with the A-bombed city to raise awareness of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.

In the general discussion at the PrepCom, statements were made by representatives of Egypt, Ireland, and other nations, calling for a ban on nuclear weapons.

(Originally published on April 30, 2014)