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Marshall Islands

1996 Marshall Islands

According to, the residents of Bikini and Rongelap who had been exposed to the radioactive cloud from the hydrogen bomb blast on Bikini demanded DKK 450 million. $ in damages from the United States government. The plaintiffs were able to provide documents from North American government institutions showing that the exposure to the 1954 radioactive dust rains was by no means an accident, but was intended for the United States to study the impact of the explosions on living beings. In 1995, documents from the United States government were published showing that the risk of the explosion was known, but had never been communicated to the people of the Marshall Islands.

In April 1990, the United States announced that it would use the zone to destroy its reserves of nerve gas that had hitherto been stored in Europe. Environmentalists on the same occasion criticized the existence of plans to disperse 25 million tonnes of toxic waste on the atoll in the period 1989-94.

In October 1986, the United States and the Marshall Islands signed an agreement on free association, under which the territory was transformed from a protectorate to a free associate state responsible for its political affairs. Under the agreement, the United States is responsible for the defense of the new state for a period of 15 years - including in the presence of an important air base - and must also provide financial assistance.

At the new state's first election in 1986, Amata Kabua was elected president.

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