Thomas Hajnoczi, Executive Advisor of the Mayors for Peace network, has been invited to take part in the 70th anniversary commemoration of the Castle Bravo test in the Marshall Islands. On March 1st, 1954, the US tested a hidrogen bomb that had a destructive force of 15 megatons, 1,000 Hiroshima type bombs, on the Bikini Atoll. The fallout of this explosion reached more than 100 miles away to the islands of Rongelap, Rongerik and Utirik.

Bikini Island is still so contaminated today that the former inhabitants and their families cannot go home. The same holds true for other atolls in its vicinity. The Marshall Islanders have a considerably higher cancer rate in comparison to other countries. President Heine spoke in her speech of the many miscarriages, abnormal pregnancies, and «jellyfish babies», babies with no bones and transparent skin.

She called nuclear weapons an instrument of genocide and expressed her support for the TPNW. The Marshall Islands attended, as an observer, the first meeting of state parties to the TPNW, in 2022. The Marshall Islands still have to sign the treaty.

The engagement of youth is particularly strong. During the commemorations, college students conducted a debate on the issue of joining the TPNW. Their knowledge about the topic is impressive.

The issue of victim assistance and environmental remediation is the main topic, among government officials and ranking leaders. The start of consultations on the establishment of an international trust fund for this purpose in the framework of the TPNW proved of high interest for the Marshall Islanders.

The United States conducted 67 nuclear test explosions from 1946 to 1958. The amount of money received from the US does not suffice for the huge task of environmental remediation and ongoing victim assistance. The problems are compounded by the effects of global warming. They are threatened by rising sea levels. As the highest point on the Marshall Islands lies only 2 meters above sea level, it is predicted that in 80 years all the atolls will have disappeared in the Pacific Ocean.

Next week, a UN seminar on Nuclear Justice will take place on the Marshall Islands, following up on the resolution on this topic last year in the Human Rights Council.