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International Court of Justice rejects Marshall Islands suit against India, Pakistan

A surface-to-surface Agni V missile is launched from the Wheeler Island off Odisha April 19, 2012. Photograph: (Reuters)

Amsterdam, Netherlands Oct 05, 2016, 09.10 AM (IST)

Top UN court today rejected an epic case brought by the tiny Marshall Islands against India for allegedly failing to halt the nuclear arms race. 

 

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its ruling in the country's case against India, the first to be decided, said it had accepted Indian arguments that ICJ should not have jurisdiction in the case, international news agency Reuters reported.

 

The 16-judge bench was quoted as saying by Reuters that while the Marshall Islands may not be satisfied with progress on nuclear disarmament, it had failed to show that it has any ongoing legal dispute with India fit for the court to adjudicate. 

 

It later rejected the Marshall Islands' suit against Pakistan on the same grounds. The third suit, against Britain, was still to be decided.

 

The Pacific archipelago, whose territory was used for dozens of atomic-bomb tests by the United States after World War Two, had argued that nuclear powers weren't doing enough to adhere to the 1970 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. 

 

In a majority verdict by nine votes to seven, "the court upholds the objection to jurisdiction raised by India," presiding judge Ronny Abraham was quoted as saying by AFP, and therefore the tribunal "cannot proceed to the merits of the case."

 

The tribunal found it lacked the jurisdiction in the case as there had been no prior recorded dispute or negotiations over the nuclear issue between the Marshall Islands and India.

 

Majuro in 2014 accused nine countries of failing to comply with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. 

 

However, ICJ failed to take up cases against other countries --China, France, Israel, North Korea, Russia and the United States -- as they have not recognised the court's jurisdiction. 

 

It's also pertinent to mention that India and Pakistan have not signed the NPT, that  commits all nuclear weapon states "to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament."

 

(WION with inputs from AFP, Reuters) 

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