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Marshall Islands Seeks Pacific Support For Nuclear Compensation

The US government provided 270 million dollars compensation in an agreement that expired in 2001, but islanders say that level is woefully inadequate.

Port Moresby (AFP) Oct 24, 2005
The Marshall Islands said Monday it is receiving support from neighbouring Pacific countries in its bid to win compensation from the United States for the continuing effects of nuclear testing carried out half a century ago.

The former US territory is seeking more than three billion dollars in compensation from the US for the legacy of 67 nuclear tests conducted by the US between 1946 and 1958 during the Cold War.

The US government provided 270 million dollars compensation in an agreement that expired in 2001, but islanders say that level is woefully inadequate.

Marshall Islands President Kessai Note met with leaders of seven other small Pacific island states in the capital of Papua New Guinea Monday and said they have promised support for efforts to win new compensation.

"I'm pleased to note on that issue the Marshall Islands was given very substantial support by our neighbouring countries and our colleagues in the Pacific in our effort to get the United States to appraise adequately the problems of the nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands," Note said.

He added that Pacific countries could pressure the US government to address the lingering problems of nuclear testing, including the 1954 Bravo test, the largest atmospheric nuclear test ever carried out.

The Marshall Islands says there are continuing health problems amongst some of the country's population of 55,000 as a result of the testing and some islands are still awaiting resettlement after the program.

Claims for additional compensation for the testing are being considered by the US Congress.

The leaders of seven small island states were meeting ahead of the Pacific Island Forum meeting of 16 regional leaders beginning Tuesday.

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