Though the suits
failed on procedural grounds, India, Pakistan and Britain were
brought to the court to answer the complaint at public hearings
In its ruling in the country's case against India, the first of
the three to be decided on Wednesday, the court said it had
accepted Indian arguments that the ICJ, also known as the World
Court, should not have jurisdiction in the case.
Judges said 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
It later rejected the Marshall Islands' suit against Pakistan on
the same grounds. The third suit, against Britain, was still to
The other nuclear powers - including declared powers China,
France, Russia and the United States, as well as undeclared
nuclear states Israel and North Korea - did not respond to the
suit the islands filed last year.
The Marshall Islands, population 53,000, was the site of dozens
of atomic-bomb tests by the United States after World War Two.
It had argued that nuclear powers were failing to adhere to the
1970 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, notably
by developing a new generation of "tactical" nuclear weapons.
In 1996, at the request of the UN General Assembly, the
International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion on
nuclear weapons. Besides finding them probably illegal unless
possibly used in self defense, it also found that countries are
obliged "to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion
negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects."
But the court ruled that given its lack of jurisdiction, it
would not consider the Marshall Islands' arguments on their
(Reporting by Toby Sterling, editing by Larry King)
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