Today marks 69 years since the United States of America detonated BRAVO, a 15-megaton thermonuclear weapon, at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands leading to widespread contamination of the land, ocean and atmosphere; and intergenerational health issues and trauma.
The bomb was 1000 times stronger than the one dropped on Hiroshima and the largest nuclear bomb the United States had ever tested.
The catastrophe of the test was summarised in the following paragraph by Dr. Tilman Ruff in an article for the International Review of the Red Cross in 2016.
“Two islands and part of a third were vaporized in the explosion, and fallout rained down on the food crops, water catchments, houses, land and bodies of children, women and men going about their daily activities. Children played with the unknown “snow” and rubbed it in their hairand on their skin. The residents of Rongelap, Ailinginae and Utrik Atolls were finally evacuated two and a half days later, after having received near-lethal doses of radiation, the highest following a single test in the history of nuclear test explosions worldwide.”
To learn more about the testing we recommend these resources:
The Nuclear Truth Project has excellent papers about nuclear weapon testing across the world. The Summary Of Health And Environmental Impacts Of U.S. Nuclear Testing In The Marshall Islands covers the ongoing impacts of the testing and how the US military knowingly disregarded the people of the Marshall Islands, their livelihoods, their lands, their seas, their skies and their traditions.
Our online resources include Pacific women speak out for independence and denuclearization, edited by Zohl dé Ishtar and Kate Dewes, which is a collection of stories from Indigenous women. We also recommend the video of the heart-wrenching poem about radioactive racism and the long quest for peace and justice, written and spoken by ICAN campaigner Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner of the Marshall Islands: Anointed (written by KathyJetnil-Kijiner).
Yesterday ICAN Australia, the Nuclear Truth Project, MISA 4 THE PACIFIC, and the Pacific Conference of Churches sponsored a webinar in which the lived experience of Marshall Islanders was shared, as well as the environmental, health and intergenerational impact of the nuclear weapon testing fallout. You can watch the webinar here.
In response to nuclear testing the Pacific the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific (NFIP) movement formed to advocate for a nuclear free world and for the self determination of people throughout the Pacific. You can read more about the movement here along with its 1983 charter.
Nuclear weapon testing in the Pacific was malignant, imperialistic, and racist. We stand in solidarity with our Pacific neighbours calling for self-determination, for the de-militarisation of the Pacific by foreign powers and for greater accountability for nuclear weapon testing done in Australia and the Pacific. We also call for states to commit to a nuclear weapon free world, and for show progressive and meaningful action on climate change.