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Top UN court to decide if it will hear Marshall Islands nuclear case against India, Pak & Britain

The charge had originally been filed against nine countries but the other six -- China, France, Israel, Russia, N. Korea & the US -- do not accept the court's jurisdiction. In photo: An atomic bomb is tested off Bikini Atoll. Photograph: (Getty)

The Hague, Netherlands Oct 05, 2016, 04.38 AM (IST)

The United Nation's highest court -- the International Court of Justice -- will decide today whether it will hear a case filed by the Marshall Islands against India, Pakistan and the UK for failing to stop the nuclear arms race.

Between 1946 and 1958, the islands were subjected to a string of nuclear tests conducted by the US. And so the country understands the devastating effects of nuclear weapons, AFP reported. 

The tiny country -- it has a population of 55,000 -- accuses the India, Pakistan, and Britain of failing to abide by the 1968 nuclear non-proliferation treaty. (India and Pakistan have not signed the treaty.) 

The Marshall Islands had in 2014 filed the cases against nine countries but 6 of them -- China, France, Israel, North Korea, Russia, and the US -- do not accept the ICJ's jurisdiction. 

That leaves the court to decide whether it will hear the case against the other three.  

The Pacific island nation aims to bring the issue of nuclear arms to the forefront so that talks on nuclear disarmament can be started again, AFP reported.  

The country argues that as per the NPT, all nuclear powers need "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".

Critics however argue the hearing is only a ruse to divert the islander's fight with the US which carried out the tests, AFP reported. 

'Several islands in my country were vapourised'

At a March hearing, the islanders described the after-effects of 67 nuclear tests carried out on Bikini and Enewetak atolls, AFP reported. 

Former foreign minister, Tony deBrum said, "Several islands in my country were vapourised and others are estimated to remain uninhabitable for thousands of years."

"The entire sky turned blood-red," he told the court. 

(WION with inputs from agencies)

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