Marshall Islands adopts three-year nuclear strategy

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Runit Dome, Marshall Islands

For the next three years, the Marshall Islands government will be implementing a national nuclear strategy that focuses on five key pillars of nuclear justice — from compensation, health care, the environment, national capacity, to education and awareness.

About 67 nuclear devices were detonated by the Atomic Energy Commission in or around the Marshalls between 1946 and 1962. According to a report from the National Research Council, the radiation emanating from these explosions severely affected those who lived in the Marshall Islands, resulting in everything from cancers to birth deformities.

The nuclear strategy’s overwhelming healthcare priority is to create cancer care services in the Marshall Islands for the elderly who endured the most horrific aspects of the U.S. nuclear weapons testing program.

The strategy also seeks to provide a safe environment for communities to live, either through environmental restoration or securing equivalent land resources elsewhere. This includes continued assurances of safety for communities already resettled in areas with residual radiation.

In addition, the strategy focuses on full payment of tribunal awards to survivors of the nuclear testing program, capacity building about the impacts of nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands, as well as the need for sustained education efforts.

Rhea Moss-Christian, the chair of the nuclear commission said the Strategy is a tool for all Marshallese living in the islands or overseas, to use in their individual and collective efforts to respond to the devastation resulting from the U.S. nuclear weapons testing program in the islands.

“It is also a resource for our partners and friends outside the Marshall Islands to understand the nuclear testing impacts that persist today and how they can support the Marshallese people,” Moss-Christian said.

An independent panel of scientists with expertise in radiation exposure and other related fields will also be established to provide the Marshall Islands “with trusted, independent science that can respond to the questions and concerns of community members,” according to the document.