MAJURO — Six Pacific island nations are expected to sign a United Nations treaty banning nuclear weapons when it opens for signature later this week, but the Marshall Islands won’t be one of them.
Island countries that have said they will sign the treaty this week include Palau, Fiji, Samoa, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, Tim Wright, Asia Pacific Director, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said Monday.
Heads of state from the first four are expected to sign, while foreign ministers for Solomon Islands and Vanuatu will sign for their nations, he said.
Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine said Monday that her government will be considering whether or not to sign the treaty. Marshall Islands Ambassador to the United Nations Amatlain Kabua joined representatives of over 120 nations earlier this year in casting a vote in favor of the U.N. resolution supporting the treaty, which is open for signature at U.N. headquarters this week.
“Obviously the Republic of the Marshall Islands — from its own experience — doesn’t want anyone to ever use nuclear weapons,” said President Heine. “But the big question is how does the world effectively eliminate this threat. It’s actually pretty complicated. This treaty deserves due time for consideration and consultation.”
The Marshall Islands was the ground zero for 67 United States nuclear weapons tests conducted at Bikini and Enewetak atolls between 1946 and 1958. It also hosts the Reagan Test Site, a major U.S. Army missile testing facility at Kwajalein Atoll.
While the treaty bans the use or possession of nuclear material, it also prevents its signatories from encouraging other countries to do so. President Heine noted that the treaty touches on two key issues for the Marshall Islands — the Compact of Free Association with the U.S. that provides base rights to use Kwajalein through at least 2066 and the country’s nuclear weapons testing legacy.
Heine said the treaty will be the subject of consultations with the public as well as review by legal authorities in the Marshall Islands before a decision is made about formally ratifying the treaty.
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/regional-news/98638-marshalls-to-review-treaty-as-six-pacific-nations-ready-to-sign