Reading Room

Marshall Islands Nuclear Zero Lawsuit Appeal to Be Heard in Ninth Circuit Court on March 15


March 9, 2017

San Francisco– On Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 9:00 AM, the appeal of the Republic of the Marshall Islands’ “Nuclear Zero” lawsuit will be heard in the Ninth District Court of Appeals. The case, initially filed on April 24, 2014, alleges that the United States failed to uphold its legal obligation under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and customary International law to begin negotiations “in good faith” for an end to the nuclear arms race “at an early date” and for nuclear disarmament.

The suit contends that the United States has clearly violated its legal obligations to pursue nuclear disarmament by spending large sums of money to enhance its nuclear arsenal. The U.S. already plans to spend an estimated $1 trillion on nuclear weapons over the next three decades and President Trump has said he wants to build up the U.S. nuclear arsenal even further to ensure it is at the “top of the pack,” saying the United States has “fallen behind in its nuclear weapons capacity.”

Scott Yundt, Staff Attorney of the Livermore-based disarmament group Tri-Valley CAREs (which closely monitors the large nuclear weapons program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) filed an Amicus Curiae brief in support of the Marshall Islands. “As people directly affected by radioactive fallout from US nuclear weapons testing, the Marshallese are a particularly powerful voice calling for enforcement of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In this time of escalating international tension, the US Courts, and really all of us, should be listening and taking our international obligations under the Treaty seriously.”

Marshall Islanders suffered catastrophic and irreparable damages to their people and homeland when the U.S. conducted 67 nuclear tests on their territory between 1946 and 1958. These tests had the equivalent power of exploding 1.6 Hiroshima bombs daily for 12 years.

The Marshall Islands does not seek compensation with this lawsuit. Rather, it seeks declaratory and injunctive relief requiring the United States to comply with its commitments under international law.

On February 3, 2015, the Marshall Islands case at the federal district court was dismissed on the jurisdictional grounds of standing and political question doctrine without getting to the merits. David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and a consultant to the Marshall Islands in their lawsuit, stated, “We believe the Court of Appeals should reverse the decision of the lower court and allow the case to be heard on its merits. But, no matter the outcome of this appeal, the Marshall Islands has shown great leadership with their Nuclear Zero lawsuits. They are a small nation that has acted on behalf of all humanity.”

For more information about the Nuclear Zero lawsuits, Click here.

Note to editor: There will be a press conference outside the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals at approximately 12:00 PM. Laurie Ashton, lead council for the Marshall Islands; Pastor Julian Riklon of the Marshall Islands; Scott Yundt, Staff Attorney, Tri-Valley CAREs; Rick Wayman, Director of Programs and Operations at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director, Western States Legal Foundation; and John Burroughs, Executive Director, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, will be available for comment.


Scott Yundt, 415-990-2070,

Rick Wayman, 805-696-5159,